Fewer poor Filipinos in first half of 2013

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THE number of poor Filipinos declined in the first half of 2013 because of robust economic growth, the government said, adding that its goal of inclusive growth through investments in social development programs was on track.

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“The faster growth of poor households’ income compared with the slower increase of basic commodity prices implies a robust increase in real incomes of the poor, which played a significant role in reducing poverty during the period,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan explained.

In the first six months of the past year, the per capita family income for the first, second and third deciles posted growth rates of 12.3 percent, 8.4 percent, and 8.4 percent, respectively.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the 2013 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) conducted in July of that year found that the poverty incidence in the country or the percentage of Filipinos considered poor based on their average income dropped to 24.9 percent in the first half of 2013 from 27.9 percent in the same period in 2012.

In terms of families, the APIS said poverty incidence also declined to 19.1 percent last year from 22.3 percent in 2012.

The PSA said the report provided the estimates of poverty incidence using, for the first time, income data from the APIS.

Previous reports were based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey held every three years.

In a statement, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Philippine economy’s remarkable growth of 7.7 percent in the first half of 2013 along with the government’s investments in social development programs significantly reduced poverty in the period.

Balisacan said the remarkable decrease in the number of poor Filipinos possibly marked the beginning of an appreciable downward trend in poverty incidence and an evidence that the Philippines’ development strategies are heading in the direction of inclusive growth.

“Sustaining rapid economic growth while maintaining a sound macroeconomic environment has proved to be effective in reducing poverty,” he added.

Moreover, the PSA survey also reported that subsistence incidence, or the proportion of extremely poor Filipino families or individuals who could not afford to meet their basic food requirements, declined in the first semester of 2013 to 7.7 percent among Filipino families and 10.7 percent among individuals.

“This is the first time that subsistence incidence was reduced to single-digit levels,” said Balisacan, also Neda director-general.

He highlighted the need to sustain the decline in poverty over the next years through continued aggressive implementation of programs resulting in rapid and sustained economic growth and reduction of poverty in all its dimensions.

“There is also the urgency of speeding up recovery and reconstruction efforts in disaster-affected areas to ensure that the gains in poverty reduction are sustained,” he added.

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