• ‘Yolanda’ to raise local poverty

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    The poverty incidence in the areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) may not be reduced drastically with the consecutive economic quarterly growths of the country, based on the government’s impact assessment within the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan.

    The RAY, which was drafted and released by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on December 18, serves as the government’s recovery and reconstruction plan for areas affected by the super storm.

    From the latest poverty incidence figures of provinces hit by Yolanda for 2012, the RAY stated that the Yolanda impact may overtake the expected positive effect brought by the gross domestic product (GDP) growths for the year.

    “ADB [Asian Development Bank] estimates an increase in national poverty incidence by 1.9 percentage points resulting from Typhoon Yolanda . . . Applying the ADB [study]result, but transposing it using 2012 data, poverty incidence in 2013 may increase to 26.4 percent, even after netting out the probable effect of GDP growth on poverty reduction this year,” it said.

    According to the ADB, the NEDA through the RAY said that over one million persons could sink into poverty “in the absence of income growth” in the affected areas this year.

    “The incidence of poverty in the Visayas is expected to surge in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon as the regional economies initially contract, unemployment rises, and food prices spike during the early emergency relief phase,” the NEDA said.

    The NEDA said that the ADB estimated that Eastern Visayas, which was hard hit by Yolanda, may see an increase in poverty incidence from 41.2 percent in 2012 to 55.7 percent in 2013.

    “Eastern Visayas is expected to have the largest jump in poverty because of the magnitude of the damage in the region, the destruction in public infrastructure and services, and the high share of families that were vulnerable to fall into poverty before the typhoon,” the socioeconomic planning agency said.

    In terms of employment, the latest Labor Force Survey figures showed that employed persons in the affected areas totaled 7.2 million working in the agricultural, industry and service sectors before the super typhoon, 2.6 million of which were the most vulnerable and were likely the first people affected by Yolanda.

    The RAY plan said that among the 2.6 million vulnerable group workers, 42 percent are women and a total of P9.6 billion monthly income will be lost because of the employment opportunities destroyed by the super typhoon.

    “For the 2.8 million wage workers employed in private establishments in both the agriculture and nonagriculture sectors, the monthly income loss is estimated at P16.6 billion,” the RAY said, citing that workers in private establishments were expected “to recover faster.”

    Some 500,000 public sector workers, or government employees, were minimally affected as their incomes are covered by the Civil Service Commission.

    “A disaster of this magnitude will stretch government resources and could raise the deficit above the 2 percent to GDP target in the next two years. Without outside support, responding to this event would undercut much needed infrastructure investments elsewhere in the country,” the NEDA said.

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