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Bicol Region Economic Situationer
A QUICK LOOK AT THE ECONOMY
The regional economy in the fourth quarter showed indications of growth as employment increased and inflation rate decreased. Bicol’s inflation rate in December settled at 2.1 percent, the lowest level recorded for the year and the third lowest among the regions in the country.
Support activities from the government and private sectors contributed to the region’s economic growth. The agriculture sector improved with increased production of major agricultural commodities, such as palay, corn, livestock, and fisheries.
Tourist arrival increased with the celebration of provincial festivals, school break, and the holiday season. Assistance was provided to micro, small and medium enterprises in the form of skills training, fund sourcing, promotional and marketing services.
Infrastructure programs in support of economic activities were also implemented, such as farm-to-market roads, irrigation and electrification projects.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), in cooperation with all response agencies and local government units, carried out counter measures to ensure “zero casualty” from typhoons “Ofel”, “Pablo” and “Quinta”. Such readiness also spared the region from sustaining damages to property, livelihood, and critical infrastructure.
Bicol’s inflation rate decelerated from 3.1 percent in October to 2.1 percent in December, the lowest level recorded for the year. Lower prices of fish and vegetables pulled down the inflation rate in the food group from 4.0 percent in October to 2.2 percent in December.
The recent round of price rollbacks of gasoline and diesel resulted to a 1.2 percentage point drop from October to December in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels.
The other commodity groups that registered slowdown in inflation rate were: alcoholic beverages and tobacco; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house; transport; and recreation and culture.
Labor and Employment
The employment situation improved with more Bicolanos employed in October 2012 compared to July and October 2011. Employment rate in October 2012 was 95.1 percent, posting an increase of 0.4 percentage point from the 94.7 percent in October 2011. Clothing, education, and health generally stayed at the same level throughout the quarter. Unemployment rate decreased from 5.6 percent in July to 4.9 percent in October.
overall consumer price index (CPI) decreased by 0.4 index point from October
to December. This is because price indices of most of the consumer items
generally remained at the same level during the quarter. As a result, the
purchasing power of the peso in the region stayed at 75 centavos in December
of 0.4 percentage point from the 94.7 percent in October 2011.
Trade and Investment
Government and private agencies conducted trainings, provided funding assistance, machine acquisition programs, and marketing and promotional services to promote the development of small and microenterprises in the region. Marketing innovations included new products from malunggay, baligang, and peanut. Through the Cagayan Valley Integrated Agricultural Research Center together with the East West Seed Company, Puenteespina of Davao and the Sorsogon Dairy Farm, P317 million was allotted for the Value-Chain Peanut Program in Sorsogon.
Improved access to production areas and abundant power source are necessary to increase investments in cottage and small scale rural enterprises. The local government of Catanduanes reported that farm-tomarket roads, barangay roads, bridges and spillways were completed in the last quarter. In addition, farm-tomarket roads were also completed under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (Pamana) projects funded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in Jose Panganiban, Labo, and Mercedes in Camarines Norte. From October to November, 37 sitios were provided with electricity by the electric cooperatives under the supervision of the National Electrification Administration.
Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry
Production of major agricultural commodities increased during the quarter, indicating growth in gross value added in agriculture, fishery and forestry.
Palay and corn production surpassed their levels during the same quarter last year by 8.9 percent and 22.1 percent, respectively. Total palay production reached 325,991 metric tons. The major contributor was Camarines Sur with a 46 percent share to the region’s total palay production. Total corn production reached 34,850 metric tons with Albay and Camarines Sur as major contributors. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the National Irrigation Administration allocated P8.4 million to Sorsogon City and Castilla, Sorsogon for the repair and restoration of eight communal irrigation systems. These projects are expected to benefit over 500 farmers and employ about 150 workers.
There was a decrease of 6,405 bales or 13.75 percent in abaca baling production in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year. According to the Fiber Industry and Development Authority (FIDA) Region 5, this was attributed to the cold weather and incessant rains during the last quarter and the continuous decline of abaca prices. Prices continued to weaken due to limited orders from the export and domestic markets. The aggregate baling for the three month period netted 40,175 bales from 46,580 bales recorded during the same period in 2011. The combined aggregate abaca production being monitored by FIDA Region 5 was placed at 40,979.86 bales or 5,122.38 metric tons in the last quarter. The province of Catanduanes still maintained its spot as the top producer of abaca fiber in the Bicol Region with 36,080 bales. This accounts for 89.81 percent of the total baling production in the region. However, this is a decline of 4,031 bales or -10.05 percent from the same quarter the previous year.
Cattle production during the fourth quarter was 4,701 metric tons. It posted an increase of 13.49 percent compared to the output during the same quarter last year. Goat production had a 23 percent increase. Carabao and hog production came down with 0.6 percent and 9.84 percent decrease, respectively. In Camarines Sur, vaccination for large cattle was done against hemorrhagic septicemia in Barangay Bulan last November. Iron supplementation, deworming and inoculation were conducted among piglets and goats in December.
Fishery production increased to 67,323.73 metric tons from 67,271.91 metric tons in the same quarter the previous year. Municipal fisheries remained as the biggest contributor to the regional catch with 47.78 percent share. However, its production went down by 2.12 percent. Production from aquaculture increased by 4.83 percent in the fourth quarter. Commercial fisheries came down with 26 percent less output in the last quarter.
There was an increase in the volume of passengers during the months of November and December for the celebration of Undas and the Christmas season despite cancellations in flights and ferry trips. To ensure safety, the Department of Transportation and Communication conducted “Oplan Ligtas Byahe: Undas 2012 and Oplan Ligtas Byahe: Krisma 2012”. However, a report from the Philippine Ports Authority showed that there was a decrease in the volume of RoRo and cargo passengers compared to peak season. The suspension of ferry trips was due to tropical storms “Ofel” and “Quinta” that hit Visayas and Caraga in October and December.
The celebration of Catandungan festival in Catanduanes, Karangahan festival in Albay, and Kasanggayahan festival in Sorsogon attracted more domestic and foreign tourists to the region. To improve tourism activities in the region, the Bicol Regional Development Council passed a resolution approving the creation and funding of the Bicol TDAs Program Management Office.
Strict implementation of mining and quarrying policies was continued in the last quarter. Mining tenement holders were monitored and compliances were evaluated. Complaints on mining, safety, and environment were filed and a closure order was issued to the small-scale mining operations at Bulaay, Palanas, Paracale, Camarines Norte. DOLE Region 5 deployed a quick response team to provide assistance to displaced workers of the Paracale Allied Miners Association as well as in other mining sites in Camarines Norte.
During the quarter, MGB facilitated the evaluation of the application for renewal of the mineral processing permits of Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corporation and Investwell Resources.
Disaster Risk Management
Three typhoons heightened the alert levels in the Bicol region during the last quarter. Domestic flights and ferry trips were cancelled due to bad weather brought by tropical storm “Ofel” in October and “Pablo” and “Quinta” in December. RDRRMC, in cooperation with all response agencies and local government units, carried out countermeasures to ensure “zero casualty”. Residents living in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal no. 2 and no. 1 were alerted against possible flashfloods and landslides. Those living in coastal areas under public storm warning signal no. 2 were alerted against big waves or storm surges generated by the tropical cyclones. Fishing boats and other small seacraft were advised not to venture out into the seaboards of Luzon and eastern seaboards of Visayan and Mindanao.
Team Albay conducted a humanitarian mission dubbed as “Tabang Tugang MindaNow” to share expertise and experiences on disaster management among the typhoon stricken residents of Davao Oriental. The activity aimed to help them cope in the aftermath of typhoon Pablo. In addition, P274 million was allotted by the provincial government for climate change adaptation programs and projects in agriculture.
A report from NSO found out that there are some 300,000 child laborers in the region. DOLE Region 5 formulated plans to reduce the number by 75% or 228,000 within four years starting 2013.
According to BAS, an increase in palay production is foreseen in the first half of 2013. On the other hand, corn production may decline compared to the 2012 level as some areas have yet to recover from damages brought by typhoons Pablo and Quinta.
With the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with extension and reform, more farm products are expected to be produced by the farmer-beneficiaries. According to the Department of Agrarian Reform, 74,733 hectares of untitled private land will be distributed to farmers.
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