By CHINO S. LEYCO
The ongoing ash eruption of the Taal Volcano will adversely affect the area considered as one of the top economic contributors to the Philippine economy, the Duterte administration’s chief economist said yesterday.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that preliminary assessment of economic impact in terms of gross value added in the province of Batangas alone already amounted to ₱7.63 billion.
The initial estimate by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) does not include public and private damage costs, Pernia added.
The gross regional domestic product of the agriculture-driven economy of Batangas has been a major contributor to Calabarzon or Region IV-A’s growth.
Among the Philippine regions outside of Metro Manila, Calabarzon has the highest economic contribution to the country’s annual output at around 17 percent in 2018.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government is committed to help areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption to immediately address the needs of the people and the economy.
According to Dominguez, officials of various government agencies are already monitoring developments on the ground to properly respond to the affected families.
He added that food packs are being distributed to people in the various evacuation centers while farmers and fisherfolks have been offered by the Department of Agriculture (DA) of zero and low-interest emergency loans.
“Based on our estimates, our country loses 1-2 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) due to natural disasters, especially from typhoons every year,” Dominguez said.
“We are likewise working on a natural catastrophe cover for our strategically important assets like schools, roads, and bridges, which would protect against natural catastrophes such as tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes, and storm surges,” he added.