Poverty down as Filipinos enjoy higher paying jobs
Poverty incidence in the country dropped to 21.6 percent last year as more Filipinos gained stable and higher paying jobs during the past six years, the government reported Thursday.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said it expected the figure to further drop to between 13 and 15 percent when the Duterte administration ends in 2022, better than the previous 17-percent goal.
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed that the full-year poverty incidence in 2015 dropped from 25.2 percent in 2012, 26.3 percent in 2009, and 26.6 percent in 2006.
This translated to 1.4 million less poor Filipinos in 2015 than in 2009, Neda Director Renaldo R. Cancio said.
However, more work needs to be done moving forward as the poverty incidence in 2015 nonetheless translated to 21.93 million Filipinos who couldn’t afford to buy basic food and nonfood items, PSA data showed.
In 2012, 23.75 million Filipinos were deemed poor; 23.3 million in 2009; and 22.64 million in 2006, according to PSA data.
Initially, the Duterte administration wanted its 10-point socioeconomic agenda to slash poverty incidence to 17 percent by 2022 from the estimated 26 percent at present.
But with actual poverty incidence last year below estimates, the government sees an even much lower rate six year from now, and ultimately to wipe out poverty by 2040.
“We’re confident that poverty incidence can be reduced so much more, especially now since we’re coming from a much lower base of 21.6 percent. From 2012 to 2015, there was a 3.6-percentage point reduction over a period of three years,” said Neda Deputy Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon.
“Since we want to up the ante a bit, we’re looking at 1.25-percentage point reduction every year, and that brings us to about 13 to 15 percent [poverty incidence] by 2022,” she said.
Edillon said the poverty reduction goal was supported by the government’s 10-point agenda as reflected in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 to 2022. The plan serves as the socioeconomic blueprint of government, and is expected to be finalized by yearend.
Thanks to Aquino
The actual poverty incidence in 2015 meant that the Aquino administration achieved its 20 to 23 percent target for the year under the 2011-2016 PDP, which Cancio attributed to “generally low and stable inflation, improved incomes, and higher employment rates.”
“Even so, the rate of poverty reduction between 2012 and 2015 could have been faster, if not for the major shocks, especially the intermittent typhoons and El Niño that adversely affected agricultural production, rural incomes and food prices,” Cancio noted.
When measured among families, the poverty incidence reached a “record-low” of 16.5 percent last year, down from 19.7 percent in 2012, 20.5 percent in 2009, and 21 percent in 2006.
In terms of number of poor families, 3.75 million could not afford basic needs in 2015, down from 4.21 million in 2012, 4.04 million in 2009 and 3.8 million in 2006.
“The subsistence incidence, which measures extreme poverty, was reduced by more than half as of 2015, attaining the target of halving extreme poverty under the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG),” Cancio said.
This indicated that there was a better quality of life and that the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) had worked. Under the program, cash was handed out cash to families in exchange for tangible targets like finishing school for children.
Cancio said the rate by which poverty was reduced was faster between 2012 and 2015, at 3.5 percentage points, compared to just 1.1 percentage points between 2009 and 2012.
“Also, while the growth of per capita income in nominal terms accelerated, consumer price inflation decreased from 12.1 percent in 2009 to 2012 to 9.5 percent in 2012 to 2015. This means that in real terms, average incomes are growing at a faster rate in the last three years, which is likely to have contributed to poverty reduction,” he added.
The Neda official noted a decline in poverty incidence across all regions, easing disparities mainly due to the 4Ps.
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