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.