Foregone income from Taal eruption may hit ₱6.7B – NEDA

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Businesses and workers in Calabarzon may have to forego incomes worth as much as ₱6.7 billion on top of damage caused by Taal volcano's eruption, but the National Economic and Development Authority said this is small compared to the regional economy.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 20) — Businesses and workers in Calabarzon may have to forego as much as ₱6.7 billion in incomes in the wake of Taal volcano's eruption, but the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said this is small relative to the regional economy.

"We don't see it having a major effect unless there will be a violent eruption," NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said in a Monday media briefing.

Taal has been on alert level 4 since January 12 when it spewed ash and steam that blanketed towns in Batangas and Cavite with heavy ashfall. Since then, people within a 14-kilometer (km) radius from the main crater have been forced to leave their homes as government volcanologists warned that a dangerous eruption could occur within hours or days.

READ: Taal still a threat with 'magma resupply' – Phivolcs

Batangas and Cavite have also declared a state of calamity, allowing local governments to tap emergency funds to help displaced families.

NEDA's initial assessments showed that foregone income from within the 14-km radius stood at ₱4.314 billion, with farm and fisheries output most affected at ₱3.168 billion. Gains worth ₱789.1 million would be foregone from the services sector, while ₱357.3 million would be lost in the industrial sector — money they could have otherwise earned during normal operations.

If the impact of Taal's eruption is assessed using a wider 17-km radius, foregone profits will climb to ₱6.658 billion, with nearly half from agriculture and fisheries. Some ₱2.778 billion will be lost from the services sector, while manufacturing will let go of ₱711.9 million worth of opportunities.

The figures mainly factor in disrupted livelihood in Taal Lake which surrounds the volcano, as all the tourism, fishing, irrigation, and navigation-related activities there have been stopped.

READ: How to prepare for Taal's imminent explosive eruption

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the figures are separate from the estimated losses from damage to infrastructure and farmlands. Damage to agriculture has ballooned to ₱3.22 billion as of Monday noon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

"Note also that in any disaster, the aftermath of typhoons and volcanic eruptions, there's going to be a lot of economic activity in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation. That's going to create jobs and stimulate the economy," Pernia said.

"Government spending will be substantial... The multiplier effects can partly compensate for the foregone income and maybe some of the infrastructure and asset damages," he added.

Latest government data showed 215,773 residents have been affected in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna and Cavite, with about half of them staying in evacuation centers.

"We hope that if some of them will slide back to poverty, it will only be temporary. The government has funds for the rehabilitation and recovery of these families," Navarro said.

The Interior Department on Monday ordered local government units in Batangas to bar residents from returning to their homes near the high-risk areas and to stop commercial establishments from going back to business as a safety measure.

READ: Operating Tagaytay businesses may face closure

However, some local officials like Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino said they will defy this order, saying Tagaytay City — where his wife Agnes Tolentino is mayor — would let businesses resume operations as the popular tourist spot sits higher than the rest of Batangas and Cavite.

Nearly 50 restaurants, 14 malls and parks, and eight hotels opened over the weekend, even as Taal continues to accumulate magma and trigger volcanic earthquakes in the towns near Volcano Island.

Five other towns in Batangas are off limits to people, while three allow residents to temporarily return for their belongings as of Sunday evening.