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Gov’t unveils suite of poverty reduction measures

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Gov’t unveils suite of poverty reduction measures

Aquino administration aims to halve number of poor Filipinos
/ 07:51 PM February 16, 2014

The Aquino administration’s latest poverty reduction roadmap—which provides for more investments in social services, infrastructure and skills training—is expected to halve the number of poor Filipinos in less than a decade.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that under the updated medium-term Philippine Development Plan (PDP), which is set to be released today, the country’s provinces will be divided into three categories.

Category 1 under the updated PDP covers highly populated areas with robust commercial activities.

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Examples are Metro Manila and progressive provinces such as Pangasinan.

Balisacan said one anti-poverty measure to be implemented in areas under this classification was the conduct of skills training to people from low-income households so they can take advantage of employment opportunities.

Because areas under this category already accommodate more businesses than others, Balisacan said the key is to help businesses get the right people to meet their requirements.

Category 2, on the other hand, covers areas with limited opportunity for economic growth because of their smaller population and isolation from centers of commerce, such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

This category also covers provinces with great tourism potential, Balisacan said.

The major antipoverty measure under this category is the implementation of infrastructure projects that will connect them to commercial centers and make them more accessible to tourists.

Category 3, meanwhile, includes areas that are most prone to natural calamities and disasters. Examples are provinces in Eastern Visayas, Balisacan said.

Measures to fight poverty in these areas include investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure and programs that will enhance local governments’ capacity to respond to disasters.

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He noted that disasters, because of the resulting disruption to businesses, have a tendency to pull nonpoor households into poverty.

Balisacan said the strategies under each category were formulated according to what government thinks will have the greatest and most immediate positive impact.

“The objective is to accelerate poverty reduction. With the plan, [halving poverty incidence] can be achieved much earlier,” Baliscan told the Inquirer.

He said trimming poverty incidence by half in less than a decade was possible with the successful implementation of the updated PDP, under which economic growth of above 7 percent is expected to be sustained.

Balisacan, who is also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), cited the success of other Asian economies in speeding up the pace of poverty reduction.

“Experiences of other countries would show how poverty reduction accelerated as they kept a fast pace of economic growth,” he said.

The Philippines recently became one of the fastest growing economies in Asia after its economy grew by 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent last year. Despite this, the country continued to have one of the highest poverty rates in the region at 25.2 percent in 2012.

Balisacan said the antipoverty roadmap should help make the country’s growth inclusive, or felt by the majority of the population.

Meantime, Balisacan said the government would augment the budget for the conditional transfer program (CCT), which is implemented across the country to lift more households out of poverty.

Under the CCT, the government grants cash subsidies to the poorest households.

Household beneficiaries are required to send children to public schools, and the mothers and their children to public health centers for regular checkups in exchange for cash.

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TAGS: Business, conditional transfer program, News, Poverty, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan
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