Life getting harder for poor with shrinking value of peso
FOR YEARS, Rosalia Mansueto, a mother of five, had to wake up very early every day to scour her neighborhood in Intramuros, Manila, looking for old newspapers and bits of scraps she could sell in a junk shop to augment the meager salary of her husband, an auto mechanic.
“I usually earn P120 to P160 a day from scraps. This is a big help for us since my husband is only a minimum-wage earner. I really find it difficult to budget our expenses especially if you have very little amount to budget to begin with,” the 25-year-old Mansueto said.
Her earnings, she said, is usually spent on food, while a her husband’s pay is allocated to house rental, utilities, transportation, and children’s school expenses, among other things.
“Things are so pricey now. There are so many things we could no longer afford because prices of goods were getting higher. We used to buy groceries at least twice a month, but now we have to make do with what our money can afford in a nearby sari-sari store,” she said.
Like Mansueto, millions of workers and their families find difficulty in coping with the low purchasing power of the Philippine peso.
According to the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), the purchasing power of the current daily minimum wage remains inadequate to lift millions of workers and their families in Metro Manila and areas outside the National Capital Region (NCR) despite the latest round of regional wage increases starting in January this year.
ALU spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said in a statement that research from government agencies Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), National Economic Development Authority (Neda) and Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that the national standard amount required for a family of five to survive in a month in 2015 is P12,517 a month or P417.23 a day.
However, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) selected economic and financial indicators released last week showed that the purchasing power of the P491 daily minimum wage to buy basic commodities and pay for basic services in the NCR is only P367.17 a day or P9,546.42 a month.
On other hand, the same BSP record showed the average purchasing power of daily minimum wage in cities and municipalities outside NCR is P250.67 a day or P6,517.42 a month.
Tanjusay said daily minimum-wage workers in NCR need P4,227.58 more in one month while workers outside Metro Manila need P6,000 more in a month for them to survive above the poverty level.
“This only shows that majority of workers in the country remain poor. This shows that the gap between the elite few and millions of poor are still very, very wide. Poor workers are getting poorer and they are being left behind by a growing economy they helped grow,” Tanjusay said.
In April this year, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board for Metro Manila pegged at P491 the daily minimum wage after it granted a P10 increase even as the ALU petitioned a P154 wage hike demand in March 2016.
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