By Chino S. Leyco
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday that the Taal Volcano eruption will not deter the country’s economy from growing at a much faster pace this year.
Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said the initial estimated damage of ₱7.6 billion in Batangas is “insignificant” to affect the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), in the first quarter of 2020.
While the Calabarzon or Region IV-A is a major contributor to the country’s entire economy, Pernia explained that ₱7.6 billion in only equivalent to 0.3 percent of the Southern Tagalog mainland’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP).
“[The initial damage in Batangas has] insignificant impact on first-quarter GDP because that covers only parts of Batangas towns bordering Taal lake,” Pernia said in a mobile phone message.
For 2020, the Duterte administration is targeting to grow the economy by 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent, faster than its 2019 projection of 6.0 percent to 6.5 percent.
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.
On Tuesday, 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 NEDA does not include public and private damage costs, Pernia had said.
Earlier, 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 of zero and low-interest emergency loans.