Source: Business Insight | malaya.com.ph
LEGAZPI CITY – Bicol is now the country’s fastest growing region posting an astounding 8.2 percent growth rate last year. It is, in effect, shedding off its ‘”poor region” image. It even surpassed the national growth rate of only 1.1 percent.
“RP could grow 7.9 percent this year but Bicol probably could outperform it by growing 12.4 percent based on electricity rates,” said Albay Governor Joey Salceda, who, last week, was elected uncontested to his second three-year term as chairman of the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC).
Bicol also got boosted by other complimentary perks. Bicolana Venus Raj placed 4th runner-up in the recent Miss Universe tilt in Las Vegas, Nevada and an Ateneo de Naga graduate topped the nursing licensure examinations. These pieces of good news indicate that Bicol is on a roll, Salceda noted.
The Bicol region held the second poorest region title in the country for decades based on the records of the National Economics and Development Authority (NEDA), due to extreme poverty caused primarily by an anemic business climate that got further stunted by periodic natural calamities.
Salceda, who first assumed the Bicol RDC chair post following his first election as governor of Albay in 2007, said the economic landscape of the region now looks different, and the momentum of growth it had taken from last year will “sustain a faster growth rate within the next three years and with new RDC thrusts.”
Bicol’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target is more optimistic than the revised target of five percent to six percent set by the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC). Economic managers originally expected GDP to grow between 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent this year, he pointed out.
A noted economist, Salceda forecasts that Bicol could even post a higher growth rate this year, about 12.4 percent, then climb up still higher by next year, aided for the most part by tourism revenues of Albay, utilizing once more the potentials of its world famous Mayon Volcano, the Cagsawa Ruins, the Mayon Skyline, Putsan Beach and the Spanish Galleon Wreck Site, among others.