• Single-digit poverty possible

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    Poverty incidence in the Philippines may be reduced to single digits if economic growth is sustained over the next 15 years, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

    “It is possible—a single-digit poverty rate—if economic growth will sustain the government’s social development program,” NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra told reporters in a press briefing on Monday.

    Esguerra said under the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 Midterm Update, the government targets to cut the proportion of poor individuals to the overall population to 18 to 20 percent by 2016.

    He admitted that achieving the 16.6 percent by 2015 set under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) would show the Philippines falling short.

    The NEDA official explained that the updated development plan acknowledges the difficulty of reaching the targets previously set, given the natural and man-made disasters that hit the country in 2013.

    Poverty may even worsen by two percentage points when the full-year 2013 results are completed, on account of the natural disasters that struck in the last quarter of that year.

    “That’s putting into account the impact of Super Typhoon Yolanda,” NEDA Assistant Director General Rosemarie Edillon said.

    In the meantime, in a recently released 2013 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), the Philippine Statistics Authority said the number of poor Filipinos declined in the first half of 2013 because of robust economic growth.

    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 what the government attributes to increased investment in social development programs.

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