CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, May 13 (PIA) -- Central Luzon is eyeing a quick and sustained economic recovery to cope up with the losses brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) OIC-Regional Director Agustin Mendoza underscored the need for a V-shaped rebound as Central Luzon's economy posted a highest contraction of -13.9 percent among other regions in terms of growth rate for 2019-2020.
"It is exceedingly necessary to reinforce our policies and interventions to ensure that the economy will not drop and shall be able to cascade to all the windfalls of robust and lasting recovery," he said.
Data from Philippine Statistics Authority show that the region's economy dropped from PhP2.18 trillion in 2019 to PhP1.88 trillion in 2020, suffering an economic loss of PhP304 billion.
As a pandemic response, NEDA crafted the Regional Action Plan (RAP) which comes with 255 immediate term programs and projects worth PhP7.6 billion intended to expedite social and economic revitalization; ensure safe mobility of the general public; guarantee equal access to affordable and nutritious food; and maintain people-centered, technology enabled and responsive public service during the state of public health emergency.
"The timely and uninterrupted execution of RAP since the last quarter of 2020 enabled us to build an inspiring story as a region and produced encouraging results relative to our bid to combat succession of health, economic and humanitarian crises," Mendoza stated.
With RAP, unemployment rate in Central Luzon showed signs of improvement when it dropped by 9.6 percent in the last quarter of 2020, compared to the 27.3 percent during the height of the pandemic.
He added that the average inflation rate was estimated at 3.03% and is still within the target set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee.
With the RAP cushioning the economic loss, Mendoza rallied for further implementation of recovery policies for 2021 such as supporting the industries in the services group which accounted for the biggest share of 46.6% to the regional economy for 2020.
"We need to embrace courses of action that will simplify and harmonize the regulatory framework for business registration and licensing; strengthen government and industry linkages; intensify value and supply-chain linkages; encourage development of emerging industries and enhance the productivity, innovative capacity, and resilience of MSMEs [Micro Small and Medium Enterprises]; and advance the use of digital technology to guarantee business continuity," he suggested.
The top three sub-industries under this group with the highest share are wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles with 27.7%, real estate and ownership of dwellings-11.8%, and professional and business services-11.7%.
Moreover, NEDA pushed for Central Luzon to build an infrastructure base to improve resiliency and accelerate connectivity and linkages, ensure food security, human capital development, energy, industrial growth, and urban development to back the industry group with 39.9% economic contribution.
"We must fast-track the implementation, completion and commencement of operation of legacy projects that will truly improve the economic and social landscapes of Central Luzon such as the Clark International Airport New Passenger Terminal, The New Clark City Food Processing Terminal and International Food Market, and the New Clark City Mixed-Use Industrial Real Estate Development," Mendoza specified.
For this group, manufacturing accounted for 64.1% of the total industry outputs; construction at 27.6 %; electricity, steam, water, and waste management 7.7%; while the lowest was from mining and quarrying with 0.6%.
In addition, NEDA highlighted the need to upgrade the agriculture, forestry, and fishing group of Central Luzon with 13.5% economic contribution to guarantee its future growth, and improve the wellbeing of families living in rural and coastal areas.
"It is therefore crucial for us to place value of strategic initiatives that will rationalize land-use allocation, promote value adding of agriculture products, and expand the forwards and backward linkages of agri-fisheries sector with manufacturing industries, and services sector, advance cooperative farming, and support research and development and climate change adaptation," he said.
Lastly, Mendoza recognized that the economic outlook for Central Luzon for the second quarter of this year is generally positive with the arrival of vaccines and better pandemic management protocols.
"I therefore call on you to apply the lessons learned from this crisis. Let us band together and carry the responsibility of delivering a bright economic future for the region," he concluded.
These post-pandemic recovery plans should be worked on for a better Central Luzon towards a "Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay" in line with the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and Ambisyon Natin 2040. (CLJD/JLDC-PIA 3)