CL economy slowly recovers from pandemic

The economy of Central Luzon is slowly recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as industries regain their vitality.

In a message delivered by Co-Chairperson Reynato Arimbuyutan, Regional Development Council (RDC) Chairperson and Bataan Governor Albert Raymond Garcia said inflation in the region continued to show signs of deceleration. 

“According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the rate of increase in prices of basic goods and services in Central Luzon was at 4.3 percent in the last three months of last year. This is much slower compared to the data from July to September,” Garcia disclosed.

Moreover, labor market continues to demonstrate improvement as the demand and supply for workforce shows vim and vigor with the gradual easing of restrictions. 

Based on the preliminary estimates of PSA, the region posted an unemployment rate of 7.7% in 2021. The figure is 5.4% lower relative to the figure recorded in 2020. 

Despite the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, Central Luzon continues to prove itself as an ideal investment haven in the country and in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The approved foreign and Filipino investments in the government-managed special economic zones of the region reached P26.9 billion in 2021. 

This is 16.5% higher compared to the P23 billion value recorded in 2020. 

“In the agricultural sector, we are pleased to announce that Central Luzon continues to top in rice production nationwide. We also lead in the production of chicken and duck meat, and duck eggs last year. These events are proof of the continued growth of our region’s agricultural sector,” Garcia furthered.

The travel and tourism sector is likewise regaining an upper hand against the pandemic. 

Though still lower than the pre-COVID19 levels, passenger arrivals at Clark International Airport reached 192,000 in 2021. 

“We are hopeful that the sector will recuperate at a much faster pace with the current policy actions that aim to enhance its competitiveness, its innovativeness and its resilience,” Garcia said.

While RDC member regional line agencies have accomplished much for the economy and people, more remains to be done as Garcia emphasize the need to invest, invest and invest in the region.

“Thus, it is imperative for us to revisit our public expenditure package to ensure that it reflects our values and priorities for our people. We need to examine our budget proposals to guarantee that it will be the financial expression of our social and economic goals in the short and medium term, and shall serve as our powerful instrument for pursuing inclusive and sustainable development,” he explained.

With the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling on the joint Mandanas-Garcia petitions, the proposed budgets of regional line agencies, therefore, must incorporate the inclusion of funding requirement for capacity building programs for local government units (LGUs) to enable them to assume devolved functions and services.

Also, prioritization of subsidies for projects of LGUs belonging to 5th and 6th class income classes, the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas as well as those with the highest poverty incidences; and consistency with Department of Budget and Management (DBM)-approved devolution transition plans duly endorsed by its Devolution Transition Committee if the plan has not yet been approved by DBM.