LEGAZPI CITY, May 14 (PIA) -- Despite the 8.4 percent decline in the economic performance of the Bicol region in 2020, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Region 5 is hopeful for the local economy to rebound to its pre-pandemic level by 2022.
"The COVID-19 would stay with us for some time. What is important here is that we already have our interventions. It is a must to remain committed towards attaining every Filipino and every Bicolano's vision of a Matatag, Maginhawa at Panatag na Buhay Para sa Lahat (Strongly Rooted, Comfortable and Secured Life For All)," NEDA Bicol Director Agnes E. Toletino said.
In 2018 and 2019, the Bicol region has the fastest growing economy in the country. However, in 2020 the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) dropped to 8.4% or PHP 517.5 billion from PHP564.9 billion in 2019, translating to economic loss of PHP 47.5 billion.
The main contributors to the decline were in the areas of construction, transportation and storage, and other services.
Moreover, information and communication, financial and insurance activities, public administration and defense, along with compulsory social activities and human health and social work posted positive growth.
Challenges and interventions
Tolentino said the Bicol region has faced three challenges which significantly affected the region's economy and development prospects.
These include the imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that started in March 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, series of tropical cyclones (TCs) Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses that ravaged the Bicol Region in the last quarter of the year, and the African Swine Fever (ASF) that affected some parts of the region.
To address these challenges, the Bicol region adopted the Regional Recovery Program (RRP) for COVID-19 Phase I Post-ECQ to carry out immediate socioeconomic development responses and support interventions.
The Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (RRP) was also set in place in response to the impact of the series of calamities to restore socio-economic conditions in disaster-affected areas. Various measures were also implemented to contain the spread of the ASF virus.
"A gradual and safe reopening of the economy will be imposed to better manage the risks. Bicol will continue to carry out the RRP for COVID-19 recovery and resiliency stages, action plans of the task groups of the recovery clusters under the National Action Plan for COVID-19 Phase III and Bicol RRP," Tolentino said.
As part of the economic revival measures, Tolentino cited the timely roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, full implementation of the Bayanihan 2 Fund and completion of big-ticket infrastructure projects.
She also pushes for increased operational capacity and promote competitiveness in the services sector's promotion of seamless social service delivery through the Philippine Identification System.
"What is important here is that we can ensure the cooperation of everyone regarding the health protocols, keep everybody safe, and continue the investments even for the expenditures coming from the government side. If that will be maintained or even enhanced, we can still fight the pandemic," she added.
Bicol Region ranked 10th in terms of economic performance in 2020. Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) recorded the smallest decline at -1.9 percent while Central Luzon had the biggest decline at -13.9 percent. (PIA5/Albay)