NRO5 MR No. 2020-02
November 19, 2020
Bicol’s Economy Expanded the Fastest by 7.4 percent in 2019
Over the past two years, the Bicol Region has the fastest growing economy in the country. Despite the typhoons Tisoy and Ursula and tropical depression Amang and tropical storm Hannah in 2019, the region remains within the target set under the Bicol Regional Development Plan for 2017 to 2022, achieving a 7.4 percent growth rate equivalent to PhP560.47 billion. All the three major economic sectors: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFF), Industry, and Services, recorded positive growth rates.
Together with five other regions, Bicol registered a GRDP growth rate that was higher than the country’s economic growth of 6 percent in 2019. However, the region records only 2.9 percent in terms of regional share or contribution to the national economy. More so, Bicol’s per capita GRDP of PhP92,314 remained the second lowest, next to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
The growth in the AFF sector, which rebounded from a contraction of -1.9 percent in 2018 to 4.7 percent in 2019, were attributed to the implementation of major agricultural support facilities and projects such as farm to market roads and aggressive implementation of enterprise development subprojects under the I-REAP component of the Philippine Rural Development Project.
The production of coconut and other high value commodities such as cacao, pilinut, banana, mango, pineapple, and abaca increased which was attributed to the provision of cash incentives to farmers, distribution of salt and coco coir-based organic fertilizers, abaca propagules and planting materials of fruit-bearing trees to organized farmer groups and local government units, development and rehabilitation of abaca areas, and the implementation of Abaca Management Disease Program. On the other hand, palay and corn production decreased due to dry spells, typhoons, and Fall Army Worm.
Fishery and livestock and poultry production both increased despite the monsoon rains and threat of African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, hot weather condition, and higher prices of animal feeds, antibiotics, and other production inputs. The increase in production can be attributed to the distribution of semen straws, drugs, biologics, and the prevention of the spread of ASF by setting up checkpoints.
The industry sector expanded, though at slower rate of 5.2 percent compared to 13.2 percent in 2018. The construction subsector remains the major contributor of growth with the continuing implementation of major infrastructure programs and projects such as the Network Development Program, National Bridge Program, Asset Preservation Program, DPWH Convergence Program with Departments of Transportation, Tourism, and Trade and Industry (DTI), and the projects on improvement of airport and port facilities. The Bicol International Airport Project, a priority transport project in the region, posted a physical accomplishment of 63.3 percent as of February 2020.
The contraction of the mining and quarrying sub-sector from a high 16 percent growth in 2018 to -1.7 percent in 2019 can be attributed to suspended operations in the production of other non-metallic minerals.
The services sector grew from 5.8 percent in 2018 to 10.0 percent in 2019, with all the 11 subsectors registering positive growth rates. There were two subsectors that rebounded from a contraction in 2018 to a positive growth, namely: professional and business services from -1.2 percent to 2.7 percent growth; and human health and social work activities from -17.3 percent to a remarkable 6.4 percent growth.
Tourism contributed in the growth of wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles subsectors with 3.5 million visitors who availed of goods and services in the region. The DTI Region 5 joined three international events and conducted four regional trade fairs which were participated by 483 MSMEs generating sales amounting to around PhP110 million. The Orgullo Kan Bikol continuously provides opportunities for homegrown entrepreneurs to develop and find new markets, making them more competitive.
The banking system remained sound, stable, and liquid. There were 36 additional banks established in 2019. The implementation of the RA 11127 or the National Payment Systems Act has developed the digital payments which provided greater efficiency and inclusivity. Financial education and digital literacy programs were undertaken.
More learning opportunities were provided at different levels of education with the implementation of the K to 12 curricula and Republic Act (RA) No. 10687, also known as the Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST). In 2019, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Region 5 processed applications, validation and payment for 21, 376 Tertiary Education Subsidy Grantees for Batch 1 of SY 2018 to 2019 which amounted to around PhP1.1 billion.
Although Bicol Region is experiencing a sustained growth in its economy, the succeeding years will prove to be more challenging as the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that started in the first quarter of 2020 and the typhoons Tisoy, Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses that hit the Bicol region in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 2020 are taking toll on the region’s economy and development prospects. Sustaining sound, stable, and supportive regional macroeconomic environment is a challenge with the Bicol RDP 2017 to 2022 GRDP annual growth rate target of 6.7 to 7.7 percent.
Among the identified strategies to combat these challenges under the “new normal” is the implementation of the Regional Recovery Program and Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program. The areas damaged by the typhoons have to be quickly rehabilitated and restored. Building up socioeconomic resiliency or the adaptive capacity of the people to take on impacts and shocks caused by economic uncertainties, natural and human-induced hazards, and governance and political risks is also necessary.
We hope that every Bicolano will support both the government and the private sector to translate this sustained growth towards attaining the goal of the Bicol Regional Development Plan 2017 to 2022 of laying down the foundation for inclusive growth, a high trust and resilient society, and a globally competitive knowledge economy. We remain committed to make this growth inclusive toward attaining every Filipino and every Bicolano’s vision of a matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay para sa lahat.
Approved for Release:
Dir. AGNES E. TOLENTINO, CESO III