May 13, 2021
Written by John Carlo Tria
About Mindanao’s 2020 growth
All Mindanao regions posted smaller declines than the 2020 national average economic growth rate. Then Bangsamoro Autonomous Region had the lowest at -1.9%. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) web link is quoted below this column to read more. We must note that GRDP reports reflect the growth of the previous year, not the current one.
Last week’s report by the NEDA was not a surprise given that Mindanao regions in recent years often perform better than the national average as I wrote in my column two years ago
(https://mb.com.ph/2019/04/30/is-the-probinsya-growing-faster/) after the government released its 2018 Gross Regional Domestic Growth Rate (GRDP) figure. In 2019 it was the Davao region that exceeded the country’s growth rate.
It will thus be worthy for Mindanao-based academics, CSO and government groups to study these growth trends with an eye to identifying some bright spots and challenges that can prove useful for local businesses and governments as they plan their moves into the new normal.
In a related development, I believe other economic reforms need to be pushed in order to cement efforts needed to bolster our capacities to recover and transition into the new normal economy.
Apart from previously passed tax reform measures, proposed legislative measures such as the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill, and proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, the Foreign Investment Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act can help broaden local growth can help push recovery and the transition to the new normal economy.
This migration to the new normal economy will be enabled further by our push into digital banking and transactions as pushed by our economic managers. The Bangko Sentral’s 2023 goal of making 50% of all payment transactions digital is I believe a worthy and timely one, which will be a big help for those of us in Mindanao who have to trade with buyers and suppliers online.
Already, the BSP reports that 17% of total payment transactions in 2020 are digital, and our country’s electronic payment volumes have already risen to 5.5 trillion pesos as of the end of March 2021, a far cry from the end of 2020, according to Philippine Payments Management Inc. (PMMI) chairman Justo A. Ortiz. This bodes well for many merchants based in the regions outside metro Manila particularly from Mindanao, allowing them to adapt their capacities to serve online transactions from many more customers apart from those within their locales.
I believe local business groups will do well to monitor the progress of these economic reforms and the evolution of their local businesses and how well they, and in particular, the thousands of Micro and Small Business members migrate into these new systems to meet the new normal.
Article first appeared in the Manila Bulletin website last May 7, 2021.