The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has underscored the need for a sustained high economic growth to further improve the lives of the poor.
Poverty incidence slightly declined in 2012 to 25.2 percent of the population from 26.3% percent and to 19.7 % from 20.5 percent among families in 2009.
Socio-economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said: “This is still a slow decline, but we will take it as an indication of accomplishment or a work in progress in the fight against poverty.”
“The growth impact on the poor can be enhanced by deliberate programs and policies to enable the poor to participate in the growth process. The government has been implementing programs and projects like the Pantawid Pamilya Program, the community-based employment program, and the sustainable livelihood program to empower the most vulnerable sectors of our society,” said Balisacan.
Another strategy is to consider regional and provincial disparities in poverty across the country and the need to have more focused strategies based on geographical and spatial considerations.
“Deliberate strategies to promote growth outside NCR, through infrastructure development and investment in human capital provide a pathway towards equalizing development opportunities,” said Balisacan.
“For provinces with high magnitude of poverty but low poverty incidence, it is important to promote higher growth to create more employment opportunities and to improve human capital and introduce flexible work arrangements for the poor.”
Balisacan said that for areas with low magnitude of poverty but high poverty incidence, interventions in these areas should focus on providing social assistance programs that promote economic and physical mobility, while economic opportunities are being created.
“The logistics and distribution system also need to be improved in order to reduce the pressure on food prices.”
Balisacan also stressed the need for an urgent and deliberate focus on disaster risk reduction and mitigation coupled with social insurance protection and income diversification.
The impact of natural disasters on poverty has the power to negate gains in economic growth and development, he said.
From 2010 to 2012, there were eight typhoons that have brought tremendous damages and losses in terms infrastructure and economic activity, Balisacan added.
The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported that 13 out of 17 regions across the country experienced a reduction in poverty incidence in 2012 compared to 2009.
The brightest spot is the region of CARAGA, dropping a remarkable 14.2 percentage points in poverty incidence among families.
“This marked improvement reflects the impact on poverty of CARAGA’s robust growth of 10.6 percent in 2012, the second fastest gross regional domestic product growth among all regions, coming from an 8.5 percent growth in 2011,” said Balisacan.
“The increase in poverty incidence in the four regions – SOCCSKSARGEN (XII), the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Eastern Visayas (VIII) and NCR could be explained by the weak economic growth in these regions and/or the occurrence of major calamities.”
Poverty incidence in the ARMM increased by 6.3 percentage points than the figure in 2009. This could be partly explained by the weak growth in the region’s output.
ARMM’s economy contracted by 0.3 percent in 2011 and grew by a meager 1.2 percent in 2012. Added to this is the high food inflation, averaging 7.1 percent over the 3-year period in the region.