LEGAZPI CITY ̶ Fuelled by investment output in the field of energy, mining, tourism and agriculture, Bicol’s economy is moving in a accelerated pace– making the region among the fastest growing regions in the country, the Regional Development Council (RDC) said recently.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, concurrent RDC chair said Bicol, erstwhile fourth poorest region in the country now appears to have seized the title of fastest growing regional economy in 2009, based on growth indicators and feedback from local businessmen.
Salceda a former Arroyo economic adviser estimated that the 2009 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of Bicol posted an 8.5 percent increase versus the national 1.1 percent real GDP.
In nominal terms, Bicol probably grew by 12.7 percent to P215 billion as compared to 3.7 percent for the entire country.
He revealed that among six provinces, Albay whose annual output in 2009 is estimated at P85 billion is leading the growth in regional output principally driven by the increased output of Tiwi geothermal and full production at LG mining operations in Rapu-Rapu as compared to its sporadic operations in 2008.
Albay accounted for almost 48.7 percent of total industrial gross value-added of the entire region.
Another driver was the tourism surge given the combination of Camarines Sur CWC and Sorsogon Donsol Butanding interaction.
Agricultural growth also made way with Albay submitting the best performance in FIELDS in 2009 at plus 18.3 percent growth in rice harvest, despite El Nino, and Masbate also experiencing bumper harvest.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) tax collection performance report of 29 percent growth in Bicol tax collections in first half of 2010 versus 12.2 percent nationally strongly imply that for the second year in a row Region V is sure to retain its bragging right as the fastest growing economy of the Philippines.
According to Salceda, he is proud of Albay accounting for 39.89 percent of the total BIR take during the period.
Moreover, Salceda earlier reported that Albay’s electricity sales volume of local distribution utility Aleco have spiked by 27.5 percent in May and averaging 17 percent in the first five months of 2010.
While with hydropower supply reductions, Aboitiz production at Tiwi have further increased although Bacman contribution remains zero for the third year on a row.
Salceda said copra production increase boosting local trade due to strong copra prices and robust output, this is on the back of the two major coco oil mills, Legazpi Oil producing 300metric tons per day and Global also producing 300mt/day.
Tourism also got another boost from Misibis and Embarcadero plus Magayon Festival gaining market traction on its third year.
Another demand booster would be the initial full implementation of AHECS universal college access worth P120m on top of the regular P37m scholarship subsidy.
Before AHECS, college enrollment has increased by 15 percent and college graduation rate by 34 percent.
Also to kick demand is the initial 5,000 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which would add another P84m on an annualized basis to local liquidity.
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, once fully implemented, would boost local consumption by P756 million assuming the government targets the 45,000 families of school-age kids not in school.
Another critical factor to sustain Bicol growth, given its natural advantage in tourism, would be the completion of the Southern International Airport in Daraga, Albay.
Trade would significantly expand if the Bicol Express rail transport would be fully restored and better still extended to Matnog, Sorsogon.