POVERTY incidence among families in Albay province has dropped by a significant 16.3 percent, from 33.9 percent in 2012 to 17.6 percent in 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported recently.
The 16.3-percent reduction, based on PSA’s annual per capita family threshold report, makes Albay the least poor among Bicol’s six provinces
Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay said in a statement the unprecedented unity of purpose among Albayanos accounted for the substantial poverty reduction and will “sustain the record, now only 1.1 percent below the national average of 16.5 percent, but while the national poverty fell by 3.2 percent, Albay posted a 16.3-percent drop.”
In population terms, the PSA report showed Albay poverty fell by 15.8 percent from 41 percent in 2012 to 25.2 percent in 2015.
The national average for the same period was just 3.6 percent from 25.2 percent to 21.6 percent. Salceda noted large family sizes among poor people remains a challenge.
The PSA report placed Albay among five provinces with best 2012-2015 poverty reduction performance in the country, along with Apayao, Batanes, Eastern Samar and Davao Oriental.
Trailing Albay’s 17.6 percent record in Bicol were Camarines Sur, with 27.15 percent; Masbate, 40.6 percent to 35.5 percent, down by 5.0 percent; Sorsogon, 31.3 percent to 31.7 percent, up by 0.4 percent; Catanduanes, 27.1 percent to 33.6 percent, up by 6.5 percent; and Camarines Norte, from 21.7 percent to 29.3 percent, up by 7.6 percent.
Salceda, who was Albay governor for the past nine years before rejoining Congress, where he is now currently senior vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and vice chair of three other committees, pushed hard to elevate the local economy, particularly through tourism, its most potent and promising industry.
He expressed confidence Albay’s tourism will continue to prosper and hit its goal of five million tourists, $1-billion investments and 235,000 jobs created in 10 years, after the completion of the Bicol International Airport in 2019, and faster modern train system to Legazpi in place by 2023.
Tourism at the frontline of Albay’s economic development program has decidedly been a success.
In Salceda’s three terms as governor, he stewarded the industry’s steady growth from 8,700 foreign tourist arrivals in 2006 to 374,949 in 2015.
The numbers become even more impressive with domestic tourists accounted for. From a mere 124, 675 in 2006, it exponentially increased to 1.042 million 2015, for a total of 1.417 million arrivals.
What these figures don’t expressly show, he noted “is how the huge increase in the influx of tourist arrivals contribute significantly to the growth of Albay’s local economy.”
Economic growth finds expressions in various forms. Albay’s National Achievement Test rank has jumped from 177th in 2007 to 35th 2016.
On record, the pioneering Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme and EQUAL grants benefited 88,444 college scholars in the past nine years, many of whom have already graduated and are now either entrepreneurs or are gainfully employed locally and abroad.