NEDA: PH dev’t, growth targets still feasibleBy Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines can still attain its 2012 growth target of 5 to 6 percent and improve its medium- to long-term growth potential to 7 to 8 percent per year, according to the new head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said Thursday in a briefing that, as reforms, social safety nets and infrastructure spending bear fruit, the Philippines would soon be in a position to actually cut poverty incidence by 2 percentage points a year.
“As we address issues and constraints to poor access to basic services, health, education, technology, financing for farmers, human development, we should be able to hasten the rate of poverty reduction,” Balisacan said.
At the same time, the country may be able to “catch up” on its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) such as basic education and maternal health, Balisacan added.
According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines needs to reduce poverty by 2 percentage points a year to meet its 2015 goal of reducing poverty by half.
With a reduction of 2 percentage points a year, the country’s poverty rate may be brought down to 16.5 percent by 2015, from 26.5 percent in 2009, said Romulo A. Virola, NSCB secretary general.
Balisacan said the low level of growth in the past two decades had been “disturbing,” while recent improvements in growth rates had not really translated to poverty reduction.
But reforms and improved socioeconomic programs, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s conditional cash transfers (CCTs), are bearing fruit in the form of higher and more widespread economic growth, Balisacan explained.
The CCT increases people’s annual income by 12.6 percent on average, resulting in a reduction in the incidence of poverty by about six percentage points, according to research by the Australian Agency for International Development.
By the end of 2011, the program covered 2.3 million households, or almost 62 percent of poor households in the Philippines.
For 2012, DSWD will revisit its CCT targets so that assistance will be more focused and aligned with updated poverty statistics, Secretary Corazon Soliman has said.
At present, the CCT program for low-income families covers all mothers and three children aged 3 to 14. Under the assistance, each child will receive P300 a month, while pregnant women will get P500 a month.
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