• Country slow to reduce poverty despite high economic growth

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    One out of five Filipino families is poor, and the number is still rising, despite the country’s robust economic growth.

    The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Poverty Statistics data released on Monday showed that 19.7 percent of Filipino families are poor, or about 4.2 million of the total population.

    “Although proportion of poor families has been practically similar between 2006 and 2012, on account of the country’s growing population, the estimated number of poor families has risen from 3.8 million in 2006 to 4.2 million in 2012,” the NSCB said in a statement.

    From 2012 to 2013, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was better than 7 percent, but the poverty rate is projected to rise in the next few years.

    Jose Ramon Albert, NSCB secretary general, said the poverty incidence was 20.5 percent in 2009 and 21 percent in 2006, a 1.3 percent drop.

    Albert said P124 billion was needed to eradicate poverty in 2012, with only 34 percent or P39.4 billion covered by the Conditional Cash Transfer program for poor families.

    Assistant Director General Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the Asian Development Bank has submitted to them a “soon-to-be-released study on poverty in relation to natural disasters” where it found that the number of poor families will rise in the wake of the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) by “as much as 1.5 percentage points” for the whole year of 2013.

    The NSCB said starting 2014, an Annual Poverty Reduction data would be released amid of the nearing compilation of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets by 2016.

    The 1.5-percentage point additional poor families as per the ADB study would mean that the 19.7 percent 2012 poverty incidence can hit 21 percent again for 2013.

    “Right now, it is not a matter of changing strategies [in reducing poverty rate in the country,]but enhancing existing programs,” Edillon said, who reported in behalf of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, who is in the Visayas for examining post-Yolanda relief and restoration.

    The cost of destruction brought about by seven major typhoons from 2009 to 2012 totaled P96.3 billion. The total included damage from Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, Pedring and Sendong in 2011, and Pablo, 6.9-magnitude earthquake and monsoon rains from Habagat in 2012.

    The NSCB said a Filipino family should have a minimum of P5,513 “to meet basic food needs every month,” and P7,890 to stay above poverty line and afford basic food and non-food needs.

    In order to overcome poverty, the families should have a monthly additional income of P2,067 “or 26.2 percent approximately of poverty threshold,” considering living conditions in year 2012.

    Among the regions, Caraga posted a “significant decrease” in the number of poor families, while the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region XIII had the lowest poverty reduction between 2009 and 2012.

    KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO

     

     

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