Gov’t claims 5.9M Filipinos rose from poverty from 2015 to 2018
The emergence of more higher-paying jobs offset the impact of 2018’s high inflation episode and pushed down poverty rates to 16.6 percent that year, the government reported on Friday, Dec. 6.
Measuring poverty by the government-set threshold of P10,727 per month for a family of five, National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said the poverty rate from 23.3 percent, or a little more than two out of every 10 Filipinos, in 2015 based on 2012 prices.
The numbers translated into 17.6 million poor Filipinos as of 2018, lower than 23.5 million in 2015.
Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said 5.9 million Filipinos had been lifted out of poverty between 2015 and 2018, a quicker pace of poverty reduction which the government hoped would lead to its target poverty rate of just 14 percent, or a little more than one out of every 10 Filipinos, by the time President Rodrigo Duterte steps down from office by 2022.
Navarro, officer-in-charge of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said average poverty reduction rate was 2.23 percentage points per annum which puts the Duterte administration “not only on track to meet our PDP target,” referring to the Philippine Development Plan of 2017-2022.
“We are also likely to meet the sustainable development goal of eradicating extreme poverty as defined by the international poverty line,” Navarro said.
The government, he added, was also on track of “cutting by half the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line by 2030.”
Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said the economic team may review the poverty reduction goal for 2022.
“I’m sure that they will go for that even more ambitious target,” Edillon said.
Poverty rate fell despite headline inflation that averaged a 10-year high of 5.2 percent in 2018 as a result of higher taxes on consumer goods under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (Train), rising global oil prices and domestic food supply bottlenecks.
Mapa said the poverty threshold was adjusted to more than P10,000 per family of five from P9.452 in 2018 as a result of high inflation.
“But when you look at reduction in poverty, you also have to look at the income side,” Mapa said.
He said the income of the poorest 30 percent “really increased much, much faster than the increase in the poverty threshold.”
Edillon said more and more jobs were being created, which was the explanation for the 14-year low unemployment and underemployment rate recorded last October.
Navarro said mean salaries and wages went up by 22.8 percent to P156,114 per year in 2018 from P127,122 per year in 2015.
Per capita income among the poorest 30 percent increased by 31.9 percent, said Navarro, rising at a quicker pace than income growth of other households outside the bottom 30 percent.
“This is a good sign that our programs targeting the poor are working well,” Navarro added.
According to Navarro, the government’s conditional and unconditional cash grants to poor families as well as workers hurt by Train “provided additional income to the poorest sectors of the society.”
Edited by TSB
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