Based on 2003 data of the National Statistical Coordination Board, CamSur was the third poorest province in the Bicol Region with poverty incidence of 38.3%. The poorest of all was Masbate with 50.2% of its population living below poverty line while Camarines Norte was second with poverty incidence of 40.7%. In 2006, CamSur became second poorest with 36.6% poverty incidence while CamNorte improved significantly as the most prosperous in Bicol with 69.6% of its population considered economically sufficient. CamNorte was better off than Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Albay which were the wealthier provinces in 2003. In 2009, CamSur was still the second poorest and worse off with poverty incidence of 38.7%.
Poverty incidence refers to the portion of a population that falls below the poverty line, i.e., these families do not earn enough income for their food and non-food needs. Poverty incidence is determined by the National Statistical Coordination Board every three years based on Family Income and Expenditure Surveys vis-à-vis Consumer Price Indices and inflation rates.
In a nationwide perspective, CamSur actually ranked consistently as tenth poorest among all the eighty provinces of the Philippines in 2006 and 2009. Masbate was likewise consistent as eighth poorest province.
Within said periods, CamSur was classified as a first class province together with Albay and Masbate. CamNorte and Sorsogon were second class while Catanduanes was third class. The income class of a province is determined by the amount of revenues of the provincial government raised from taxes and non-tax earnings. Non-tax proceeds include profits from government-owned or controlled business, donations, or returns from investments. According to NSCB, a province qualifies as first class if its government earns an average annual income of P450 million or more; and second class at P360 million to less than 450 million.
From 2003 to 2009, families in the province have been lagging behind four other provinces of the region in terms of the capacity to fulfill their economic needs. Such poverty prevails despite a revenue-rich provincial government. How can a rich provincial government exist amidst many impoverished families? This is a conundrum, a puzzle, a riddle – two situations that seem incongruent but actually exist in CamSur. In the light of the theories in Public Economics, the government should work for efficient allocation of resources. In CamSur, the theories obviously do not apply. I am sure somehow you can surmise why such situation exists. Try and solve the puzzle.