Region-12’s economic growth seen to expand further

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/01 August) — After notching its highest economic growth rate of 8.4 percent last year, Region 12 or Soccsksargen’s economy could further expand to record-breaking levels in the next two years with the projected surge of the area’s industry and agriculture sectors.

Arturo Valero, National Economic and Development Authority Region 12 director said the region is currently on track towards meeting and even surpassing its target of 10-percent economic growth rate by 2016 based on its updated Regional Development Plan (RDP).

He said the revised RDP, which was completed last year, targeted an 8- to 10-percent economic growth rate for the region from 2013 to 2016.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

On Thursday, the Philippine Statistics Authority-National Statistical Coordination Board in Region 12 disclosed that the region’s economy grew at a faster rate of 8.4 percent in 2013 after reaching the 8 percent mark in 2012.

Such growth rate is equivalent to a Gross Regional Domestic Product value of around P333.2 billion at current prices that is around P33.8 billion higher when compared to the 2012 output.

The agency said the area, which posted significant growths in the industry and services sectors, emerged as the fastest-growing economy in the region and the third in the entire country last year.

Citing the 2013-2016 RDP, Valero said they had targeted an economic growth of 7.5 to 8.8 percent for the region last year.

“The 8.4 percent is within our target and the highest so far for the region. That corroborates our claim that indeed Soccsksargen is the region to beat or the region of the future in Mindanao and possibly of the entire country,” he said.

The official said they came up with a target growth of 10 percent in the next two years based on the sustained growth achieved by the region’s main economic sectors — industry, services and agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing — since 2010.

For the next two years, he said they expect the industry sector to flourish through sustained contribution from the construction sub-sector.

He specifically cited the ongoing road construction and repairs, construction of commercial buildings in different urban centers as well as the implementation of other related public and private projects.

In 2013, construction peaked at a growth rate of 17.1 percent after only posting 6.4 percent in 2012.

In terms of manufacturing, he said they expect that the continuing increase in the area’s agricultural production will eventually help the sub-sector to sustain its growth.

“With increased agricultural production, manufacturing will continue expand as most of its raw material requirements are agriculture-based.

The growth of our manufacturing sub-sector these past years indicates a strong linkage between agriculture and industry,” he said.

Valero said they expect the electricity, gas and water supply sub-sector to continue to grow and give a bigger share in the regional economy.

He noted that there are a number of energy or power projects,specifically renewable, that are currently in the pipeline.

In Sarangani Province, the Alcantara-controlled Sarangani Energy Corporation is expected to start the commercial streaming by next year of the initial phase of its 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Maasim town.

Valero said the growth in the industry sector will support the services sector and will affect as well its main sub-sectors like trade and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, personal and household goods and transport, storage and communication.

He said the service sub-sectors that are expected to post considerable growths are tourism, personal and health care, entertainment and education.

“With better and well-implemented (government and private sector-led) programs and projects in the region, we hope to continue to grow and eventually share these gains to our marginalized and disadvantaged constituents,” he added. (MindaNews)