By CHINO S. LEYCO
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said yesterday that it expects the country’s poverty rate to be halved by the end of the Duterte administration’s term.
“This would be the first time in history that the poverty rate will be halved in just six years, a significant contribution and achievement of this administration,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.
This is in line with the more ambitious target reduction of poverty incidence to 11 percent, from the original 14 percent, by 2022, which was approved in the previous meeting of the Development Budget Coordination Committee.
Statistics showed that the country’s poverty incidence dropped to 16.6 percent in 2018, averaging a reduction of 2.23 percentage points per year, making the previous target achievable by mid-2022.
The decline was also broad-based, as all regions, except Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, recorded a decline in poverty incidence among population.
NEDA attributed the decline in poverty to sustained growth that generated jobs for the poor, increased incomes of the poor that outweighed inflation, the implementation of social programs, population and family planning program, as well as less extreme weather conditions.
Pernia added that inclusive, job-generating growth and better-targeted programs helped increase the incomes of the poor.
“For those in the bottom 30 percent of the population, mean per capita income increased by 31.9 percent, outpacing the income growth of those in the top 20 percent of households,” Pernia said.
“The government must continue to generate more quality jobs, increase the income of the poor, reduce the vulnerability of the poor through social programs and financial literacy, and the intensified implementation of the National Program on Population and Family Planning (NPPFP),” he added.
Pernia also emphasized the need for the NPPFP to be fully funded for the next three years to help further strengthen and broaden its implementation at the local level.
In particular, Pernia said this will help boost the implementation of sexuality education program in all schools to reduce teenage pregnancies.
Pernia also said it is important to have programs that will encourage savings to increase people’s resilience to disasters and protect against unexpected income losses or expenses.
“We must remember that we are aiming for comfortable and secure lives for all so we must be more ambitious in terms of poverty targets,” Pernia said.
“We must unite and work even harder in the next three years as we aim to lift even more Filipinos out of poverty and make good of our promise to leave no one behind,” he added.