THE National Economic Development Authority (Neda) in Cordillera estimated P18 billion worth of losses in the region as the worldwide coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic continues.
On Wednesday, July 29, Neda-Cordillera Director Milagros Rimando said during her State of the Region Address (Sora) at the Regional Development Council Hall in Baguio City during the culminating program of the 33rd Cordillera month that the economic and infrastructure sectors are most affected by the pandemic.
"Even during the first quarter of 2020, we already had the pandemic and for the next three months through a survey that was done by Neda, we had seen the result of P18.6 billion losses as estimated by Neda and all our agencies doing their own surveys. So out of the P18.6 billion lost or forgone income, it is actually the economic sector that lost P11 billion, the infrastructure with P3.6 billion and all others, infrastructure projects P3 billion," Rimando said.
Based on calculations made by the Regional Economic Development Authority, the said losses are equivalent to around 4.8 percent of the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) to which in terms of current prices, the region's GRDP target for 2020 was at P324 billion with the P18.6 billion equivalent to 4.8 percent of the GRDP.
GRDP measures the economic performance of a region. It covers the value of goods and services produced in the region usually reported in terms of growth rate and expressed in real terms or at constant prices.
Growth rate shows if the economy grows faster (accelerated) or slower (decelerated) or decline (contracted) compared to the previous period, while the GRDP measures the relative contribution of the three major economic sectors, Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry, and Fishing (AHFF), Industry, and Services.
"We did a rapid survey of the establishments in CAR in the first and second week of May and we have seen that many of our establishments have actually temporarily closed which is less than half, and another 46 percent limited their operations, 84 percent reported lower sales which is for the entire region. This included not only micro and small but even the large establishments that are located in PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority)," Rimando said.
The survey also showed that despite the economic effects of Covid-19 in the region, 23 percent hoped that recovery will happen in less than three months, while 18 percent expect to recover in more than three months.
"Forty-four percent of individual respondents reported to have lost jobs and 35 percent of the farmers reported not being to sell even if they continued their productions in their farms. We have seen that the most affected sectors were Peza, tourism, construction and education. Let us not forget that as early as March, the local government units have already cancelled the Panagbenga and the Strawberry festival, which are actually peak events in the region, so with that the economy weakened, public health, of course, was shaken and the region through the Regional Task Force prepare for the Covid-19 regional recovery and resiliency plan for 2020 to 2022 which was approved in May this year amounting to P33 billion with almost half of it to be spent for the social sector," Rimando added.
Neda-Cordillera said the use of funds per sector, which is P9 billion, would be spent for health for the region to strengthen its health structure, P6 billion for agriculture, and P4 billion for education, with the remainder to be spent for other sectors like social protection and others.
It also sees 2020 as a recovery period wherein the economic department expects the end of the year up to 2021 as a resiliency period to which the crisis should be used as an opportunity for reforms, such as building up, improving the region's health infrastructure, agriculture productivity, digitalization of many processes in the government including the private sector businesses.