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Albay has lowest poverty rate in Bicol: PSA

LEGAZPI CITY--Albay’s persistent efforts to boost its local economy have started to pay off.

A Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report said the province posted the lowest poverty rate of 25.1 percent for the first semester of 2015, the lowest in the Bicol Region.

The PSA latest poverty incidence report used income data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey conducted in July 2015. The survey report presented the comparative poverty incidence of the seven Bicol provinces for 2006 and 2015 respectively, as follows: Albay, from 32.3 percent to 25.1 percent; Camarines Norte — 29.5 percent to 36.5 percent; Camarines Sur — 38.7 percent to 29.2 percent; Catanduanes — 31.2 percent to 39.7 percent; Masbate — 47.8 percent to 31.6 percent; and Sorsogon — 30.6 percent to 35.7 percent. Albay’s 2015 figure, however, stands 4 percent away from the national average of 21.1 percent.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said his administration for the past nine years had worked hard to boost the local economy, particularly through tourism promotion, and was able to provide its constituency better health and medical care and support, and greater access to quality education. He expressed confidence Albay’s tourism industry will continue to prosper and hit its goal of five million tourists, USD1 billion investments and 235,000 jobs in ten years, after the completion of the Bicol International Airport in August 2018.

The governor who steps down from his post end of this month to assume as Albay’s 2nd district Representative in Congress said the efforts of placing tourism at the frontline of Albay’s economic program had proven most successful, adding that in his three terms as governor, he had observed a pattern of growth showing that the 8,700 foreign tourist arrivals in 2006 has surged to 374,949 in 2015.

“And the numbers are even greater if we count domestic tourist arrivals which was a mere 124, 675 in 2006 but has exponentially grown to 1,042,646 in 2015, for a total of 1,417,646 arrivals. What these numbers don’t expressly show is how the huge hike in tourist influx contributed significantly to Albay’s economic growth. More tourists mean more revenue for the local government and more jobs for the people,” he explained.

Their secret of success, Salceda said is “unity or social cohesion — shared values, shared goals and shared impacts, the foundation of our social technology — whole of government growing to whole of society, now whole of ecosystem.”

As Unicef’s third World Biosphere Reserve in the Philippines, Albay takes pride in its varied terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, forests, grasslands, freshwater, marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as caves and agricultural lands. The province has earned praises for successfully hosting the 2016 Palarong Pambansa in April, which drew thousands of tourists, following its hosting of two international sports events -- the Xterra Albay 2016 and Le Tour de France.

Salceda pointed out, however, that aside from government agency reports of Albay’s development gains, such that of the Department of Tourism’s and the PSA’s, the other “indicators of development show that mothers in Albay are no longer dying during childbirth; the province now is malaria and filariasis-free; their National Achievement Test ranking had jumped from 177th in 2007 to 19th in 2012; and that their regional and provincial hospitals have been modernized.

“In Albay, we don’t measure development and progress in terms of towering skyscrapers or creating a sprawling metropolis,” he pointed out. (PNA)

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