Pernia: ‘Ursula’ onslaught poses risk to poverty-reduction gains
MANILA, Philippines — The onslaught of Typhoon “Ursula” this week poses a risk to poverty-reduction in the areas it flattened, such that the country’s chief economist on Friday sought immediate relief response extended to its victims.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that “Ursula” will have “no significant impact on fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth as [there was] not much economic activity during the last week of the year.”
The economy needed to grow by about 6.6 percent during the fourth quarter to achieve at least the lower end of the government’s downscaled full-year GDP growth target of 6-6.5 percent for 2019.
However, Pernia said there would be “more likely palpable impact on livelihood and poverty at the household level in the [affected] areas moving forward.”
Observers had noted that Ursula—although not as strong—tracked the same path that Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) devastated in 2013, mainly parts of Eastern Visayas.
The Washington-based World bank had reported that Yolanda slashed 0.9 percent from GDP growth in 2013, on top of another 0.3-percent cut the following year. The extensive damage also resulted into 2.3 million Filipinos falling below the poverty line, especially those in affected areas.
The government this month reported that the nationwide poverty incidence dropped from 23.3 percent in 2015 to 16.6 percent last year.
So as these gains in reducing poverty will not be reversed, “the usual quick response and needed rehabilitation towards recovery” must be put in place in areas heavily battered by Ursula, said Pernia, who heads the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
In a text message, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. economist Michael L. Ricafort said “inflation in December could also pick up due to higher prices of food (which accounts for about 35 percent of the consumer price index or CPI basket) and other agricultural products, in view of the latest damage to agriculture by typhoon ‘Ursula,’ especially in hard-hit areas in the Visayas and in some parts of Mimaropa region.”
“Temporary supply chain/logistical disruption could have also caused some uptick in the prices of other basic commodities especially in the areas damaged by the strong winds and floods by typhoon ‘Ursula.’ Similar damage by typhoon ‘Tisoy’ in the early part of December may have also caused some uptick in inflation in terms of higher prices of food, other agricultural products, and other basic commodities especially in the Bicol region and other parts of the Visayas,” Ricafort added.
Edited by JE
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