By Kimani Eros S. Franco, June 14 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

REGIONAL inequality in the Philippines eased in 2018 compared to 2016 and 2017, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in an economic bulletin on Friday, citing lower measures of variability in regional domestic product.

It said the coefficient of variation of gross regional domestic product (GRDP) per capita fell to 0.788 in 2018 from 0.791 in 2016 and 0.795 in 2017, suggesting that laggard regions closed the gap with richer regions.

The DoF said the overall narrowing of the gap was due to a decline in growth rates of the richer regions coupled with the acceleration of growth in lower-income areas like Bicol, MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), now part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

The three regions mentioned grew faster than the national average at 8.9%, 8.6% and 7.2%, respectively in 2018.

The National Capital Region (NCR) continues to lead the country in terms of GRDP per capita in 2018 with P253,893, up from P244,589 a year earlier. Region IV-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) was second at P104,708.

The regions that tallied slower growth in 2018 are Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the Davao Region at 7.3%, 3.3%, and 8.6%, respectively, slowing considerably from their 2017 rates of 12.2%, 7.1%, and 8.6%, respectively.

Poorer regions need to be supported through increasing infrastructure expenditure to improve those regions’ resource endowments, the DoF said.

The Finance Department said the national government needs to do more to reverse regional inequality by building irrigation facilities that allow multiple rice crops and more farm-to-market roads.

It also cited the need to link up the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) livelihood development centers with conditional cash transfer (CCT) beneficiaries.

The DoF said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Insurance Commission (IC), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), and government financial institutions need to conduct financial literacy campaigns in poor regions to channel savings to productive activities. — Kimani Eros S. Franco