NSCB: Poor hardest hit by inflationBy Michelle V. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The country’s poorest households suffered the most from the rapid rise in the prices of consumer goods and services compared with the rest of the population.
Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that the prices of goods and services consumed by households in the bottom 30 percent of the population rose by an average of 5.7 percent from 2003 to 2012—faster than the 4.6 percent national inflation average.
NSCB Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said in a paper released Friday that the reason for this was that food—the prices of which normally increase by a faster rate than those of other commodities—accounts for a bigger share of the consumption basket of the poor than the consumption basket of households with higher income.
Food, beverage, and tobacco (FBT) accounts for 74.5 percent of the consumer basket of the bottom 30 percent of households compared with the national average of 50 percent.
Albert noted that the lower the income, the smaller the capacity of a household to buy items other than food.
“Price changes in food items significantly affect families in the low income group than any other group. [This is why] it is important for government to ensure that social safety nets are present,” Albert said in the paper titled “Is the Price Right?”
One example of such a safety net is a program that will ensure rice being sold by the National Food Authority is accessed only by the poor, and not by households that can afford to buy more expensive rice, Albert said. He said the registry of poor households developed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development may be used by the government in distributing rice to the targeted market.
“Unfortunately … there is a leakage in access to NFA rice among nonpoor households because of lack of targeting mechanisms for the poor. Targeting systems can help minimize leakages in interventions,” Albert said.
He also said the private sector must do its share, such as by conducting corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects to help improve food productivity and offer opportunities for low-income earners.
Although the Philippines’ registered a robust economic growth rate of 6.8 percent last year, one of the fastest in Asia, it also has one of the highest incidence of poverty in the region.
The NSCB earlier reported that the country’s poverty rate stood at 27.9 percent in the first semester of 2012.