Flashback on Ilocos Region’s Economy

COMING FROM A NEGATIVE GROWTH IN 2009, Ilocos region met head-on the challenge of steering its economy to the positive territory in 2010.

This was the assessment made by the Regional Department Council of Region 1(RDC-1) during the State of Regional Development (SORD) Conference held last week at Hotel Arianna, Paringao, Bauang, La Union.

The SORD is an assessment of the development performance of Region 1 for 2010 in comparison to the previous year in the context of the country’s development in 2010. The results of the assessment will be used by the RDC-1 in crafting its plan for the year in pursuit of the region’s vision of a “progressive and globally competitive peoples with pro-poor and united leaders- one in sustainably promoting Region I as an agri-business and tourism powerhouse in Northern Philippines”.


The Philippine economy marked a stronger than expected performance of 7.3 percent growth registered in 2010 from 1.1 percent in the previous year. The sudden rise was attributed to the expansion in private and government spending coupled with growth in capital investment and the noted increase in net exports. Gross National Product, too, grew by 7.2 percent from 4.0 percent in 2009. This strong performance at the national level is expected to trickle down to the region.


Price adjustments slackened to 2.5 percent from 3.5 percent in 2009. The slowed down price increase was due to the easing of price pressures in food, beverages, and tobacco sectors, overshadowing the price increases in the fuel, light and water index.


On employment, labor force participation rate rose slightly to 61.8 percent from 61.5 percent in the previous year. But employment rate slightly went down by 0.3 percentage points , from 91.8 percent to 91.5 percent. So with underemployment rate which declined to 14.8 percent from its previous year level of 16.8 percent.


Despite the lingering effect of global recession and the hostage crisis in Manila in August last year which triggered the indefinite suspension of direct flights from Hongkong to Laoag City and the cancellation of hotel bookings, tourist arrivals in Ilocos still went up to 22.56 percent due to aggressive tourism promotion.


With the dismal 13.5 percent decline in the performance of the agri-fishery sector in 2009, the vulnerable sector managed to bounced back even against the backdrop of El Niño’s dry weather to 7.43 percent in 2010, the highest since the 7.19 percent growth in 2007.

The remarkable performance was attributed to the increase yield and the effective implementation of Quick response Recovery Program (QRRP). The QRRP focused on improved and appropriate facilities and technologies toward a sustainable irrigation system in agriculture, particularly in drought-prone areas. The program distributed and promoted the aerobic rice varieties and hybrid seeds that could withstand floods and drought.

Production in almost all agri-fishery commodities increased, with rice having the highest growth of 15.29 percent followed by corn at 2.09 percent. Livestock and poultry sub sector also went up. But fruits and marine fisheries registered town trend growth in 2010.


Government and private spending during the 2010 synchronized elections revved up the regional economy. Also government outlays on infrastructure rose in 2010 with the continued implementation of infra projects in the region, as well as the rehabilitation of structures and facilities damaged by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in previous year. Social services spending also increased in the year-in-review which included the conditional cash transfers’ program to poor families who assure their children stay in school.

With this modest accomp[lishment of the various sectors and stakeholders, economic planners in the region believe that the region’s performance in 2010 was on the upturn and on track as was expected.
(ANL-PIA 1 La Union)(Abe N. Libadia/NEDA R1 Report)