Poverty rate below 10% by 2022
Given the faster pace of poverty reduction during the past three years, the country’s chief economist said it was possible for poverty incidence to drop below 10 percent by the time President Duterte steps down from office in 2022.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that the poverty incidence rate might further drop to 12 percent by 2021 when the government undertakes the next round of poverty statistics conducted every three years.
Last week, the government reported that the national poverty rate fell to 16.6 percent in 2018 from 23.3 percent in 2015.
The reduction in poverty incidence meant the number of poor Filipinos declined to 17.6 million last year from 23.5 million in 2015.
The 2018 poverty line of P10,727 a month for a family of five also rose from P9,452 in 2015 as incomes of poor households increased due to the availability of better-paying jobs as well as cash grants from the government.
Pernia said he expected that by mid-2022, poverty incidence would ease to 11 percent “or possibly below 10 percent.”
“It would mainly depend on sustained economic growth rate of 6 to 7 percent or better and intensity in family-planning program implementation, especially among poor households who are having more children than they want and can provide for,” Pernia said.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team, said it was “certainly possible” that the current target of reducing poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 would be revised to aspire for an ever lower rate.
Dominguez said that aiming for an even faster poverty-reduction goal would be discussed during the next Economic Development Cluster (EDC) meeting.
“Reforms have been put in place by President Duterte to improve the lives of all Filipinos such as the tax reform, ‘Build, Build, Build,’ rice tariffication, free state universities and colleges tuition, and institutionalization of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) for the poorest households. These economic reforms have clearly resulted in more money in the pockets of the Filipino people, while reducing inflation and creating more jobs,” Dominguez said.
“The government will hit its target of pulling down poverty incidence to 14 percent with further reforms such as the full implementation of universal health care and higher ‘sin’ taxes to ensure sufficient funding for this healthcare program for all Filipinos,” Dominguez added.
“We have advanced a number of the game-changing reforms we set out to accomplish at the start of the Duterte administration. If we pass the rest of the reforms in the zero-to-10 point socioeconomic agenda, we will move even closer to the President’s ultimate goal of a comfortable life for our people,” according to Dominguez. INQ
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