Pernia: ‘Ursula’ poses risk to poverty-reduction gains | Inquirer Business
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Pernia: ‘Ursula’ poses risk to poverty-reduction gains

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:24 AM December 28, 2019

The onslaught of typhoon “Ursula” this week poses a risk to poverty-reduction gains in affected areas, such that the country’s chief economist on Friday sought the extension of immediate relief response to the victims.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told the Inquirer that “Ursula” would 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.”

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The economy needed to grow by about 6.6 percent in 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 “likely be palpable impact on livelihood and poverty at the household level in the [affected] areas moving forward.”

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Observers had noted that “Ursula”—although not as strong—tracked the same path that super-typhoon “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 in 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 the gains in reducing poverty will not be reversed, “the usual quick response and needed rehabilitation toward recovery” must be put in place in areas heavily battered by “Ursula,” said Pernia, who heads 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.

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TAGS: poverty reduction, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, typhoon “Ursula”
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