POVERTY REDUCED: Economic growth, investments rise in PH

The number of poor Filipinos is declining, according to a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recent report indicating that poverty incidence among Filipino families declined to 21 percent during the first half of 2018 from 27.6 percent during the first half of 2015.

This is attributed to more jobs created for the population living below the poverty line due to sustained economic growth as investments continue to rise, according to National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Overall, it is encouraging to see poverty continuing to decline as lives of Filipinos continue to improve,” NEDA officer-in-charge Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said.

Navarro said the growth in per capita income of the bottom 30 percent of households which picked up significantly to 29.2 percent in the 2015-2018 period, from only 20.6 percent in the 2012-2015 period.

This implies an increase in real incomes of the poor, which has helped in reducing poverty among Filipinos, she said.

Navarro said higher wages and salary incomes as the top contributor to the strong income growth for the poorest 30 percent of households, followed by domestic cash receipts/support including from government, and entrepreneurial activities.

“In particular, the growing contribution of industry, particularly construction and manufacturing, to output and employment, are creating more income-earning opportunities that are accessible to the poor,” Navarro said.

Navarro said the implementation, expansion and enhancement of government’s social programs, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer Program and Unconditional Cash Transfers, have also helped augment incomes of the poor.

To speed up poverty reduction, the NEDA official further said the government hopes to bring about policies that will help stabilize prices, such as the Rice Liberalization Law, while giving farmers technical support through the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

“We are also calling for more opportunities for entrepreneurship, job creation, and sustainable livelihoods for our low-skilled labor force,” Navarro said.

Navarro said they are also continuing the push for reforms that facilitate the creation of new businesses and boost the outputs of firms, which will eventually translate to high-productivity jobs.

“These are the reduction of foreign investment restrictions and the package 2 of the Tax Reform Program, which will lower corporate taxes and rationalize investment incentives,” Navarro said.

“Attracting investments, however, should not be limited to urban growth centers but also to other regions and provinces,” Navarro said.