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Strong agri sector at the root of ARMM’s growing economy

COTABATO CITY – While the growth rate of the Philippines’ gross domestic product slowed at the national level, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has shown an “accelerated” growth rate pegged at 7.3 percent in 2017, a significant leap from the 0.4 percent gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth rate it registered in 2016.

“People used to say this kind of growth was impossible in the ARMM but through our collective efforts in the regional government, together with our civil society partners, we have made it possible,” ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said during a press conference headlined by the release Thursday of the 2017 Report on the Regional Economy of the ARMM.

Director Razulden Mangelen of the Philippine Statistics Authority in ARMM noted that the region is a “persistent and predominantly agricultural region.” Out of 17 regions in the Philippines, the ARMM is the only region with a strong agricultural base, as the rest of the country thrives on a predominantly services and industrial-based regional economies.

“The improved performance of the region’s economy was mainly due to the recovery of the agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing (AHFF) industry,” according to PSA figures.

Hataman credits the ARMM’s economic growth to institutional reforms. “The ARMM is far from perfect, but the reforms we have institutionalized in the region have been crucial. Our sluggish economy in the past was never about a lack of resources but of political will, which is why we have committed ourselves to making the ARMM bureaucracy work better for the people.”

The AHFF industry posted the highest contribution to the ARMM’s economic growth this year, accounting for 4.3 percentage points out of the 7.3 percent GRDP growth of the region.

Both the agriculture and forestry, and fishing subclass under the AHFF industry registered significant growth, with the agriculture and forestry subclass posting a growth of 8.7% in 2017 from negative 0.9 percent in 2016, and the fishing sector posting a growth of 4.5% from negative 8.7 percent in 2016. These figures are significant, as farmers and fishermen remain among the poorest of the poor in the Philippines as of 2015, also according to PSA data released last year.

“We are glad to see that our efforts have led not only to unprecedented statistical growth, but to actual growth that is felt by the Bangsamoro,” Hataman said.

The ARMM ranks sixth in terms of economic growth for the year 2017, among the 17 regions of the Philippines.

ARMM’s GRDP growth rate hits record-high

ARMM’s gross regional domestic product growth rate also peaked at 7.3% in 2017 from a dismal 0.4% in 2016 – the highest economic growth rate in the region’s history, and surpassing the national economic performance at 6.7 %.

The unprecedented performance put the region at sixth place among 17 regions in the country, overtaking other fast-growing economies nationwide.

PSA figures shows that a recovered agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing sector contributed a lot to the region’s economic performance. It regained its performance as it registered a 15.5 percent growth from a mere 4.3 percent in 2016.

The ARMM is predominantly agricultural, with a 56.4 percent industry contribution in the region’s economy. “The GRDP is a tool to measure the economy of each region. It covers the value of goods and services offered in the region,” Mangelen said.

The GRDP measures the goods and services produced in every region of the country. It is the basis for analyzing the regional distribution of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, including the industries and factors that contribute to the regional economies.

National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales lauded the ARMM government’s effort to provide accurate information at the right time. “In behalf of the PSA, I congratulate the ARMM for the great economic performance and for helping us advocate for the right information. Ngayon nararamdaman na talaga ang pagbabago sa ARMM,” Bersales said.

Hataman noted that the region’s economic growth rate is truly remarkable in the ARMM’s history since its creation. “Yung mga imposible noon naging posible na ngayon. Masaya ako dahil mag iiwan tayo ng marka sa rehiyon bago ang transisyon sa Bangsamoro government,” he said.

He said the high economic rate is one of the gains following reforms in regional governance and bureaucracy since he assumed office in 2011, during which the ARMM recorded a low economic growth rate of negative 0.3 percent. “Inayos natin at patuloy na aayusin ang pamamahala at burukrasya sa rehiyon kaya naniniwala ako na tataas pa ito sa susunod na taon,” Hataman said.

The fishing subsector also showed remarkable growth from negative 8.7 percent to 4.5 percent.

“Ito ay dahil sa good weather condition, pagtaas ng seaweeds production at mataas na fisheries production. The regional government will also continue to provide livelihood projects to farmers and fisherfolks,” ARMM’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-ARMM) Director Janice Musali said.

The ARMM remains the largest producer of fish in the country with reported fisheries production of 4.3 million tonnes, and a seaweeds volume of 4.7 million tons in 2017.

The PSA-ARMM also noted the improved performance of the industry sector, which jumped to 10.3 percent from 5.7 percent. The industry sector covers mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, and electricity, gas and water supply.

Growth drivers in the region also included the service sector which improved to 9.6 percent from 8.2 percent.

The services sector, also referred to as tertiary sector, covers businesses that engage in transport, storage, and communication; trade and repair of motor vehicles, personal and household goods; financial intermediation; real estate, renting and similar business activities; public administration and defense; compulsory social sector; utilities; and other services.

In 2016, the region’s economy rebounded after a slower growth in the previous year. It posted positive 0.3% from negative 0.4% in 2015. (Bureau of Public Information)


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