Asked why the Bicol Region is poor, local officials would usually blame low budget given the region by the national government. That may be correct, in part, but with the advent of the Local Government Code of 1991 which gives automatic internal revenue allocation (IRA) to the local government units (LGUs) along with the power to tax, such an excuse would only show how lazy these local officials are.
Interestingly, almost all of the provincial officials in Bicol are not that lazy to improve their provincial income. Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 and FY 2008, the aggregate increase of the Bicol provincial LGUs is 99.65%. The highest increase is noted in Albay with 139.17% followed by Camarines Norte with 99.25%. The least in terms of increase is Sorsogon with 78.44%. (See Table below.)
In terms of absolute change, the biggest is in the provinces of Albay with P623.2 million from P447.8 million in FY 2001 to almost P1.1 billion in FY 2008. The province of Mayon Volcano is being followed by Camarines Sur, the wake-boarding capital, with P510.3 million from P526.3 million to P1.0 billion in fiscal years 2001 and 2008, respectively.
Albay and Camarines Sur also joined the group composed of 24 of provinces with a P1 billion and above income. Albay ranks 20th while Camarines Sur ranks 23rd. (The leader of these provinces are Palawan, Cebu, Bulacan and Cavite with over P2 billion each in terms of total income.)
The least province in the Bicol Region in terms of actual income change is Catanduanes with only P172.6 million. This is expected because the island province is usually ravaged by typhoons and that the population are into out-migration.
In terms of annual income change, the most erratic is Camarines Sur with an increase of +29% in FY 2002 – 2003, dipping to negative (-) 7% in FY 2004-2005, then leaping to positive (+) 34% in FY 2005-2006 only to go down again to +13% in the next fiscal years.
As opposed to Camarines Sur, an almost consistent, and predictable, in terms of annual income change is Catanduanes especially starting from FY 2002-2003. The momentum of positive increase, however, was broken, when Typhoons Reming and Milenyo struck the province causing a dip in FY 2006-2007 to -0.41. Even then, the dip is still higher than its lowest dip in FY 2002-2003 with -2%.
The percent decline in 2006-2007 of all provinces is due to the effects of Typhoons Milenyo and Reming. The provinces that were gravely affected were the provinces of Sorsogon and Albay, respectively, where the damages were noted to be highest. In Albay, in addition to the damaged properties, hundreds of persons were also declared dead or missing.