Bicol’s economic growth outpaced NCR in 2019 — PSA

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The 5.5-kilometer Sorsogon City Coastal Road is one of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” projects in the Bicol Region. -- Courtesy of Department of Public Works and Highways

THE ECONOMY of the Bicol Region grew the fastest among the 17 Philippine regions last year, exceeding the growth rates posted by the capital as well as the national average, the government reported on Thursday.

Preliminary results from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Regional Accounts showed Region V or the Bicol Region expanded by 7.4% in 2019, quicker than the National Capital Region’s (NCR) 7.2% and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.0%.

Aside from Bicol and NCR, four other regions posted gross regional domestic growth (GRDP) above the national average: Davao Region (7%); Ilocos Region (6.9%); Cagayan Valley (6.7%); and Western Visayas (6.4%).

On the other hand, Soccsksargen logged the slowest GRDP at 3.5%.

The results were based on a revision and rebasing of regional accounts that shifted the base year to 2018 from 2000, in line with the previous update on the national accounts earlier this year.

The overall revision and rebasing widened the coverage of the regional accounts to include emerging industries and products as well as changes in the “regional structure,” according to the PSA.

For instance, the weight of NCR was changed to 31.8% from 37.5% previously. On the other hand, significant weight increases were noted in Central Luzon (11.3% from 9.3%) and Bicol Region (2.9% from 2.1%).

With the exception of NCR, Central Visayas, Davao Region, and Soccsksargen, the weights for the other regions were either unchanged or increased.

“The updated data set gives a more accurate picture of the economy as we can see that over time, development has moved out from the NCR, to other high growth areas… We also note relatively faster growth in areas such as Ilocos and the Visayas, which is a welcome sign in terms of development,” ING Bank N.V. Manila Senior Economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said in an e-mail.

Still, Metro Manila remained the biggest contributor to the economy in 2019 with a 32.2% share of the national economy. Other regions with significant shares in the country’s output were Calabarzon (14.6%) and Central Luzon’s 11.2%.

“[W]e may actually record faster GDP growth in areas outside Metro Manila in 2020 and into 2021 with much of the areas outside the NCR and its surrounding localities returning to some form of normalcy while NCR remains in partial lockdown,” Mr. Mapa said.

“However, the growth will not likely be much better (or in some cases, slowed declines) given that much of the business activity still emanates from the capital and with the NCR area knocked out or under quarantine, areas outside the capital will still likely feel the heat from the economic recession we are currently experiencing,” he added.

In terms of sectoral output, Caraga Region posted the fastest growth in services at 11% in 2019, followed by Bicol Region at 10% and Eastern Visayas and Cagayan Valley, both at 9.1%.

For industry, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) recorded the quickest growth at 10.2%, followed by Davao Region and NCR at 9.6% and 7.5%, respectively.

In agriculture, the regional top performers were Cagayan Valley (7.2%), Mimaropa Region (4.7%), Bicol Region (4.7%), and Cordillera Administrative Region (4.2%).

In terms of per capita GRDP in 2019, NCR led all regions with P457,034, around 2.5 times the national average of P180,528 and up 5.8% from 2018.

On the other hand, BARMM had the lowest per capita GRDP of P54,020. — Marissa Mae M. Ramos