Philippine poverty level seen to drop by 13-15% by 2022 – World Bank

poverty

The World Bank (WB) has recommended some policy directions that would further cut poverty in the Philippines by 13 to 15 percent in 2022.

In its poverty assessment, the WB has urged the Philippine government to create more better jobs, improve productivity in all sections particularly agriculture, equip Filipinos with skills needed for the economy and invest in health and nutrition.

The WB also recommended that the government should focus its poverty reduction efforts in Mindanao and manage disaster risks and protect the vulnerable sector of the economy.

In its report titled, “Making Growth work for the Poor: A Poverty Assessment for the Philippines,” the WB noted that the Philippines is well-placed to speed up poverty reduction with its solid economic fundamentals.

“The challenge is to provide more economic opportunities, which would help many more people earn higher and stable incomes,” says the report.

The Philippines’ robust economic growth has helped the poverty rate to fall by five percentage points from 2006 to 2015 to 21.6 percent due to the expansion of jobs, government transfers through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program and dollar remittances.

World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand Mara Warwick is optimistic that “with a strong economy, the country is well-placed to end the vicious cycles of unequal opportunity that trap people in poverty, set in place measures to improve service delivery and boost job opportunities.”

The WB report noted that some 22 million Filipinos—more than one-fifth of the population—still live below the national poverty line in 2015.

Constraints to achieving faster poverty reduction, according to the report, include the less pro-poor pattern of growth, high inequality of income and opportunities and the adverse impacts of natural disasters and conflict.

Most poor Filipinos have low levels of education and live in large households headed by individuals who are self-employed or work in agriculture as laborers or smallholder producers.

The poorest households are those dependent on agriculture as their main source of income and most of them live in the countryside, in areas prone to disasters or in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao.

Senior economist Xubei Luo at the WB’s Poverty and Equity Global Practice says that increasing public investment in Mindanao to boost development would expand opportunities for the conflict-affected communities, broaden access to services and create more and better jobs.

Inequitable investment in human capital and insufficient well-paying job opportunities trap the poor in poverty across generations, the report explains. High concentrations of wealth constrain equal opportunities and access to services, which are necessary for inclusive growth. Natural disasters disproportionately and repeatedly batter the poorest regions of the country, miring them in higher levels of poverty.

 

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Cordillera region posts fastest regional economic growth in 2017

The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)’s economy posted the fastest growth at 12.1 percent in 2017, followed by Davao at 10.9 percent, and Central Luzon at 9.3 percent.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) says the Philippines is on the right track with respect to its regional development agenda.

CAR, Davao and seven others—Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Western Visayas, SOCCSKARGEN (South CotabatoCotabato City,Cotabato ProvinceSultan KudaratSaranganiGeneral Santos City), and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao—posted growth higher than the National Capital Region’s 6.1 percent.

Despite the positive growth across the board, NCR continues to have the largest share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product at 36.4 percent.

“The government is now waging its biggest campaign yet—the Build, Build, Build—and it gives regions hope. They are getting a big share in the government’s infrastructure projects and programs,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The goal of the government’s massive infrastructure program is to make the regions better connected, address socioeconomic inequities by linking lagging regions with leading ones, improve efficiency and productivity for further growth, and reduce disaster vulnerability under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

Pernia said that Cordillera’s actual GRDP more than doubled its target of 4.0-5.0 percent in 2017, with the recovery of its industry and agriculture sectors. This was made possible by the government’s increased spending on public infrastructure and social protection. Increased investments in private construction also improved connectivity within the region and its neighbours.

Meanwhile, Davao’s growth, which has surpassed its targets for six consecutive years, was pushed by its construction, mining and quarrying industries.

“In Davao, there is a continuous boom in private construction, particularly for mass housing and property development and in government infrastructure projects,” Undersecretary for regional development Adoracion M. Navarro explained. The mining sector in the region also posted a double-digit growth of 18.2 percent partly due to the increase in produced gold.

Navarro said Davao is setting its sights on several Build, Build Build projects, including the Davao City Coastal Road, Davao Food Exchange Complex, Tagum-Davao-Digos line of the Mindanao Railway System, Davao-Samal bridge, improvement of the Davao International Airport, modernization of Sasa Port, Davao Fish Port Complex, and the New Agdao Public Market.

 

“The implementation of these projects will help spur economic growth and generate employment in the region,” Navarro added.

 

Other major infrastructure projects in Central Luzon include the development of the New Clark City, Clark International Airport Terminal Building, and the Manila-Clark Railway.

 

Pernia noted that these projects are well aligned with the national spatial strategy under the PDP 2017-2022. The strategy anticipates future growth based on trends in population, economic activities, and services. It emphasizes that Metro Manila should be decongested and that growth must be directed to other regional centers.

 

Philippines to launch first barge terminal

The Philippine government is building its first barge terminal dubbed as the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza, Cavite.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade says the first phase of the Cavite Gateway Terminal will accommodate barges, which will ferry 20 and 30-footer container trucks now plying the routes of Metro Manila from Subic Port in the North and Batangas Port from the South.

The project will have 550 ground slots for containers with an empty depot. The terminal will have an estimated two to three hours of ferry time, with initial multiple pick-up locations from Cavite-Manila, Cavite-Batangas, and other future routes such as Cavite-Subic..

An original concept of Secretary Tugade, the terminal was constructed aimed at decongesting Metro Manila traffic by reducing the number of cargo trucks plying its roads by 50%.

The terminal is 90% completed and is slated for launch before the end of June 2018.