Friday, 13 August 2010

Bicol seen rising 12% on mining boom

by Roderick T. dela Cruz
Manila Standard

Legaspi City—Bicol, the country’s fastest growing region in 2009, is expected to expand by another 12 percent this year, fueled by mining and energy sectors.

“In 2009, when traditional growth areas generally slowed down and the national GDP growth was a modest 1.1 percent, Bicol’s GDP increased by an impressive 8.2 percent,” Bangko Sentral Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said on Wednesday at the opening of the Bangko Sentral’s new office in Legaspi City.

“Out of the 17 regions in the Philippines, Bicol region claimed the distinction of having the fastest growth rate in terms of goods and services produced,” he said.

The new office will provide central banking services in the booming Bicol region. Tetangco said the new facility was built to keep pace with the expanding economy of Bicol.

BSP Legaspi branch services 75 branches of rural, thrift and commercial banks in the cities of Legaspi, Tabaco, Ligao and Sorsogon as well as the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda confirmed that the Bicol region was booming, fueled by the expansion of the mining and energy sectors.

“It is near boom in Albay,” he said.

Salceda said tax collection in the province rose 36 percent to P2.5 billion in the first half from P1.9 billion a year ago.

Electricity sales rose 27.5 percent in the first half while tourist arrivals are seen to increase dramatically by 21 percent this year, with the opening of new hotels.

Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the bank is confident about the future of Legaspi and Albay.

Data showed that bank deposits in Bicol posted an annual growth rate of 12 percent to P53 billion in 2009. Bank loans also increased 15 percent to P13.8 billion last year.

Meanwhile, Bangko Sentral said it would continue to use a combination of cotton and abaca for the newly designed paper money or banknotes, to be launched in a few months to support the abaca industry in Bicol.

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