A top government official said on Friday that the government aims to lift more than 10 million people out of poverty in less than two years, and make an enduring impact on lessening one of Asia’s worst rich-poor divides.
The government has set a target of cutting the number of people living in poverty to 16.6 percent by the end of 2015, down from 27.9 percent last year, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
“It’s a big challenge. Wejust don’t have the luxury of time and the luxury of resources to waste,” Balisacan told reporters.
The ambitious goal is set ahead of when Aquino is required to stand down in mid-2016 after a six-year term.
It comes after stunning economic growth, credit rating upgrades and record stock market highs in the first half of Aquino’s term failed to make a dent on crushing poverty.
Even though the Philippines had the fastest growth rate in Asia of 7.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, the unemployment rate rose to a three-year-high of 7.5 percent in April.
The number of people living in poverty—defined as living on 62 US cents a day or less—had also largely remained the same.
Last year 27.9 percent of the country was classified as living in poverty compared to 28.8 and 28.6 percent in 2006 and 2009, respectively.
That means more than 25 million currently live in poverty.
The Philippines has long had one of the biggest rich-poor divides in Asia, with a remarkably small number of families dominating politics and business.
While the Aquino administration has always aimed to create more inclusive growth,
Ba-lisacan said the government was “recalibrating” after the recent economic performance failed to make a big impact on poverty.
“We are learning the lesson of the last three years,” he said.
The economy remains largely reliant on services and consumption, fuelled by the huge remittances of almost 10 million Filipinos working overseas.