Poor Filipinos as a proportion of the population has dropped substantially under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte to 16.6 percent in 2018 compared to 23.3 percent in 2015.
“The full-year 2018 poverty incidence among population, or the proportion of poor Filipinos whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs, was estimated at 16.6 percent,” the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.
The Philippines thus had closed the gap with its neighbors in terms of solving the poverty problem as most major Asian countries have single-digit poverty incidence.
National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the decline in the poverty incidence was recorded in nearly all provinces over three years, except in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where it increased.
Likewise, subsistence incidence or the number of Filipinos unable to meet their basic food needs due to inadequate income stands at 5.2 percent or 5.5 million Filipinos, down from 9.2 percent figure posted in 2015.
The PSA set the poverty threshold or the monthly amount needed to sustain a family of five was at P10,727 for 2018, marking an increase of 13.5 percent from the P9,452 poverty threshold set in 2015.
National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said the full-year figures showed significant progress, “not just in terms of increasing overall income but also reducing inequality as well.”
Goals on target
The poverty incidence further dropping to 16.6 percent of the population in 2018 from 23.3 percent in 2015 showed the government is on track in meeting the targets set under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
With a poverty reduction rate of 2.23 percentage points per annum, the government is on track to meet the PDP target of bringing down poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022.
“We are also likely to meet the Sustainable Development Goal or SDG target of eradicating extreme poverty as defined by the international poverty line and cutting by half the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line by 2030,” according to Navarro.
He said the government is close to achieving its target to lift six million Filipinos out of poverty by 2022 as 5.9 million have improved in their economic status as of 2018.
This significant reduction in poverty is largely attributed to the improved labor market conditions that increased the salaries and wages of the poor.
With a vibrant economy that continues to generate good jobs, the mean salaries and wages for the population went up by 22.8 percent to P156,114 a year in 2018 from P127,122 in 2015.
“For those in the bottom 30 percent of the population, mean per capita income increased by 31.87 percent. This outpaced the 18 percent income growth experienced by the top 20 percent of households. This is a good sign that our programs targeting the poor are working well,” Navarro added.
Similarly, the proportion of Filipinos with insufficient income to support basic needs or subsistence incidence stood at 5.2 percent versus the recorded 9.1 percent in the same comparable period.
Similarly, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the recent figures showing an increase in inflation rate in November 2019 to 1.3 percent from October 2019’s 0.8 percent should not be a cause for alarm.
“Soaring inflation, which peaked at 6.7 percent last year, has been slain through the efforts of responsible agencies, and is now a thing of the past,” according to the Palace official.
The Palace stressed that for the first 11 months of this year, inflation rate averaged at 2.5 percent, which the Department of Trade and Industry says is “still a very tamed inflation rate, much lower than the full year range of two to four percent we are expecting” and within such target range set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Increases registered highest in alcoholic beverages and tobacco index, and economists attribute the same to excise taxes.
“The country’s stable macroeconomic fundamentals plus streamlined food supply will enable the economy to attain rapid growth and sustain low inflation. Through appropriate fiscal and monetary policies, it will be able to ride safely through the ongoing trade war and avoid the shocks that slowed down many emerging economies,” according to the Department of Finance.
The administration will maintain fiscal and monetary policies implemented by economic managers to boost and further improve the country’s economy, while keeping inflation low for local consumers, amid emerging global threats, Panelo said.