MANILA, Philippines – Despite the country’s two credit rating upgrades in the first half of the year, about four in 10 Filipinos still believe that the national economy hardly budged over the past year, a recent survey by Pulse Asia shows.
The June 2013 Ulat ng Bayan survey, conducted on June 20 to July 4, asked 1,200 adult respondents nationwide the question, “If you compare the state of the national economy now with that of last year, would you say that the state of the national economy is better now, same, or worse now?”
Forty-three percent said the economy is unchanged. On the other hand, 29 percent said it worsened, while 28 percent believed it had improved.
International credit-rating firms Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s both gave the Philippines an investment-grade rating in March and May, respectively, citing the country’s rosy macroeconomic fundamentals.
But perceptions on the economy were essentially unchanged between March and June 2013, Pulse Asia noted in its news release regarding the survey findings. In its March survey, Pulse Asia found 42 percent saying the economy was unchanged, 33 percent saying it improved and 24 percent saying it got worse.
That the economy is the same as last year is the plurality view in Metro Manila and Luzon outside Metro Manila (48 percent to 50 percent) and Classes ABC and D (42 percent to 48 percent).
Almost the same percentage of those in Mindanao and those in Class E felt that the economy was unchanged (38 to 43 percent), or that it worsened (37 percent to 41 percent).
In the Visayas, opinion on the economy was split, with 39 percent saying it improved, 32 percent saying it was unchanged and 30 percent saying it worsened.
Depending on their response, the respondents were asked the follow-up question, “To what extent are you feeling in your own life the deterioration/growth of the national economy?” They were made to choose among: “strongly feel,” “feel somewhat,” and “do not feel.”
Among those who said the economy deteriorated, 56 percent said they “strongly felt” it, down from 63 percent in March.
Thirty-eight percent said they somewhat felt the negative changes, up from 29 percent previously. Six percent said they did not feel it at all, down from 8 percent in the past quarter.
Those who strongly felt the deterioration of the economy included big pluralities to sizable majorities across geographic areas (52 percent to 63 percent) and socio-economic groups (50 percent to 65 percent).
Of those who believed that the economy grew, 49 percent said they somewhat felt it, down by four points from the 53 percent figure in March.
Forty-one percent said they strongly felt the positive changes, up from 37 percent last quarter. Ten percent said they did not feel it at all, similar with the March figure.
The same survey determined which items Filipinos spent more on in the past three months.
Almost half or 49 percent of Filipinos said they spent more on food in the past three months, down from the 56 percent, which was recorded in March 2011.
Twenty-nine percent reported spending more on electricity in the past quarter, up from 22 percent in March 2011.
Filipinos also spent more on medicines (9 percent), transportation (5 percent), water (2 percent), recreation (1 percent), LPG (1 percent) and cell phone load (1 percent), which all did not differ from the March 2011 figures.
Incidentally, the rising cost of basic necessities remained the most urgent on a list of 10 national concerns provided by Pulse Asia.
Sixty-one percent of Filipinos ticked “controlling inflation” as the most urgent national concern, 10 points up from the March figure of 51 percent.
Other national concerns perceived urgent included: increasing wages (49 percent); creating more jobs (41 percent); reducing poverty (37 percent); fighting graft and corruption (31 percent); fighting criminality (22 percent); enforcing the law equally (16 percent); protecting the environment (16 percent); promoting peace (15 percent); and controlling population growth (11 percent).
The survey used face-to-face interviews and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points for national percentages, and plus-or-minus 6 percentage points for subnational estimates, both at the 95 percent confidence level.
Among the news and issues hogging the headlines at the time of the survey were the continuing tension between the Philippines and Taiwan over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard; the relief of Labor Attaché Antonio Villafuerte of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh over allegations of sexual abuse of Filipino overseas workers; the investigation into the explosion at Two Serenda in Taguig City; and the resignation of Senate President Enrile from his post.