Bicol economy suffers P47.5 B losses in 2020

By Mar S. Arguelles


The economy of the Bicol region last year significantly dropped by -8.4 percent or P47.5 billion in terms of economic losses in the region’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) in 2020, the Philippine Statistics Agency (PSA) said.


Cynthia Perdiz, PSA regional director, said Bicol’s GRDP dropped to P517.5 billion in 2020 from P565 billion in 2019, slightly lower than that of the 2018 GRDP of P522 billion.


Perdiz said most of the industries posted a negative growth last year particularly construction, transportation and storage, finance, public administration, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and services.


Perdiz, in a joint PSA- National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) virtual news briefing, said of the 9.6 percent economic decline of the country last year. Bicol contributed a -0.2 percentage point to the national economy as compared to previous years where Bicol accounted for 3 percent of the Philippine economy.


Meanwhile, Agnes Tolentino, NEDA regional director, said in 2018 and 2019, Bicol’s economy was the fastest-growing economy in the country, however in 2020 it failed to meet its annual target of 6.7 to 7.7 percent growth as set under the Bicol Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017 to 2022.


Tolentino said the economic slumped may be attributed to three factors: First was the imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last year due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic prompting hundreds of private establishments to close that resulted in the displacement of thousands of workers. The report said the closure of business establishment had raised the unemployment rate in Bicol.


Second was the series of typhoons -- Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses -- that ravaged Bicol which resulted to growth losses amounting to P80 billion.


The third was the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak affecting the region’s swine industry, triggering a supply deficiency thus causing the spiraling of prices of meat products.


She said with all these big challenges for the year 2020, the Bicol region, along with nine other regions registered a GRDP growth rate that was higher than the country’s economic growth of -9.6 percent in 2020.


She, however, said that in terms of regional share or Bicol’s contribution to the national economy, Bicol recorded a measly 3.0 percent in 2020.


The region’s per capita GRDP also contracted by 9.3 percent.


The per capita GRDP is determined by dividing the value of all goods and services produced by the population in the region.


In terms of value, however, Bicol’s per capita GRDP of P84,3 billion ranked second lowest next to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


Tolentino said that with all the challenges that confront the region’s economic growth, the government will continue to implement key projects that will stimulate the fast recovery of the regions.


Among the priority programs lined up for implementation include the big-ticket infrastructure projects such, the Quezon-Bicol Expressway, Bicol Circumferential Road, PNR South Long Haul, Bicol International Airport, and the new Naga Airport.


High impact infrastructure projects of the DPWH will be prioritized to include the Legazpi City Urban Drainage, Daraga Diversion Road in Albay, Sorsogon City Bypass Road, Bacon-Manito Road in Sorsogon, Rolando Andaya Highway in Camarines Sur, Camarines Sur Expressway, Pasacao-Balatan Coastal Road in Camarines Sur, Nabua Bypass Road in Camarines Sur, Imelda Boulevard in Catanduanes, and Catanduanes Circumferential Road.