|Philippine poverty lingering, study shows
The lack of jobs and widespread corruption are major factors behind the slow decline in Philippine poverty rate, analysts said.
University of Asia and the Pacific economist Cid Terosa said the slow increase in the number of jobs is a key reason behind the slow pace of poverty reduction.
“Poverty reduction has been slow because growth in the number of jobs has been slow and less inclusive," Terosa said.
University of the Philippines economist Solita Monsod said corruption is also making it difficult for the government to significantly reduce poverty, Xinhua.
“A higher economic growth rate will not translate into less number of poor people nationwide if inefficiencies in the government such as the pork barrel issue would persist," Monsod said.
In its later report today, the National Statistical Coordination Board showed a slight improvement in poverty last year. In 2012, NSCB said poverty eased to 25.2 percent of the population from 26.3 percent in 2009.
Among Filipino families, poverty also declined to 19. 7 percent last year from 20.5 percent in 2009.
But NSCB Secretary-General Jose Ramon G. Albert said the improvements are not "statistically significant."
Even Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan observed that the decline in poverty has been "slow."
But Balisacan said the government would not abandon commitment to the United Nations under the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty incidence to 17.2 percent by 2015.
Former Budget Secretary and University of Philippines economist Benjamin Diokno said, however, that halving poverty by 2015 may no longer be feasible.
"The goal of cutting poverty incidence by half by 2015 is virtually beyond reach. For one, growth has been uneven. There is a big disparity between the share of the richest 10 percent of the population and the poorest 10 percent," Diokno said.
What would make it more difficult for the government to hit its MDG target is the spate of natural disasters that struck the country. The NSCB said Philippines was hit by seven major natural disasters between 2009 and 2012.
“he earthquake and typhoon Haiyan [alone] could cause 1.5 million Filipinos to fall into poverty this year," an official of the National Economic and Development Authority said.
To move out of poverty, data from the NSCB showed a poor family with five members needed a monthly additional income of 2,067 pesos (US$47) in 2012.
NSCB data showed that a Filipino family needed 5,513 pesos a month to meet its basic food needs and 7,890 pesos monthly to keep poverty away.