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PSA: Bicol, fastest-growing region

ECONOMIC REPORT. Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) regional director Cynthia Perdiz (left) reports on the economic performance of the Bicol Region during the Bicol Economy News Conference held at the Hotel St. Ellis in Legazpi City on Thursday (April 25, 2019). Perdiz said Bicol was the fastest-growing among all regions in the country in 2018. (Photo courtesy of PIA- Albay)

LEGAZPI CITY --- Fueled by investments in the services and industry sector, Bicol’s economy grew by 8.9 percent in 2018, making it the fastest growing region in the country.

Cynthia Perdiz, Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) 5 (Bicol) director, said on Thursday that Bicol surpassed all other regions nationwide in terms of economic development. Its growth last year was faster than the 5 percent recorded in 2017, she added.

The services sector had the largest contribution to the regional economy, posting a 57.5 percent share, followed by industry at 23.9 percent. The agriculture, fishing, and forestry sector, on the other hand, contributed 18.6 percent.

Service accelerated faster than industry, compared to previous years, but both sectors boosted the region’s economy, Perdiz said during the Bicol Economy News Conference held at Hotel St. Ellis here.

The region’s growth rate is measured by the Gross Regional Development Product (GRDP) output on current prices and constant prices.

Bicol, under the GRDP constant prices, increased by 8.9 percent or PHP15.6 million from the PHP187.6 billion in goods and services produced last year, compared to the PHP172 billion in 2017. On GRDP at current prices, the region produced PHP374.3 billion last year compared to the PHP331.6 billion recorded in 2017 and PHP306.5 billion in 2016.

The 8.9 growth rate made Bicol the top-ranking growth region nationwide followed by Mimaropa, Davao region, Central Visayas, Calabarzon, Cordillera Administrative Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) 5 said having recovered from the effects of past calamities, the agriculture sector growth has moved forward with the implementation of major agri-support facilities.

Agnes Espinas Tolentino, NEDA-5 director, said during the news conference that the Department of Agriculture (DA) spent PHP735 million for the construction of 97 farm-to-market roads with an estimated length of 73.50 km. and benefiting 2,930 farmers.

Growth in the industry sector was supported by construction (21.7 percent); mining and quarrying (18 percent); and moderate growth in manufacturing with 1.2 percentage points.

The robust growth in construction was supported by the “Build, Build, Build” program, with a 70-percent increase in government construction in 2018.

Government spending on infrastructure and other economic and social services included the widening of roads and bridges along the Maharlika Highway, Catanduanes Circumferential Road, Albay-Camarines Sur Diversion Road, Bacon-Manito Road, and four other road projects.

Among the continuing big-ticket infrastructure projects are the Bicol International Airport Project, Naga Airport project, Camarines Sur expressway, Pasacao-Balatan road, and the Catanduanes Circumferential Road.

Constructions by the private sector increased by 36.9 percent with the completion of various mall and department stores, such as the SM City in Legazpi City, Vista Mall in Naga City, Xentro Mall in Polangui, SM Mall in Daet, Camarines Norte, the Oriental Hotel Albay and Morison Hotel, both in Legazpi City.

Tolentino said infrastructure projects accelerated government spending and other economic and social services.

Growth in mining and quarrying was backed by the production of gold, which was increased by 7 percent by Filminera Resources Corp. and Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. in Aroroy, Masbate.

The value of non-metallic minerals, such as perlite and limestone, increased by 12.2 percent.

However, while Bicol is seen as a new growth area, the region continues to endeavor to be delisted as among the poorest in the country.

With a population of 5.7 million, 39 percent or 2.2 million (four out of 10) Bicolanos are poor. (PNA)

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