Poverty incidence could worsen in 2021

    Temporary. Poverty incidence could worsen in urban areas where the pandemic and the quarantines were notable. (Photo By RHOY COBILLA)

    The Philippines’ poverty incidence could worsen to 17.5 percent next year, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown measures that were implemented may have increased poverty in urban areas.

    The projected poverty rate for 2021 is 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent, Karl Kendrick Chua, acting socioeconomic planning secretary, said during the continuation of the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s virtual briefing before the Senate finance committee yesterday.

    Poverty in the Philippines is measured every three years. In 2018, it was 16.7 percent.

    “Before the COVID-19, we were originally on track to reaching the target of 14 percent or lower (by the end of the administration’s term). However, for COVID-19, we have to make some adjustments. The next measurement of poverty is 2021, and our estimate right now is that it can go from 15.5 to 17.5, so it’s possible that it can be lower, or even slightly higher,” Chua said.

    “We might see a temporary worsening in the urban poverty, where the pandemic and the quarantines have affected their livelihoods, at the time being,” he added.

    Chua said the 1.5 million that could slip into poverty amid the pandemic cited in a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies is in line with the projection of up to a 17.5 percent poverty rate.

    “But I understand the study also shows that if the government did nothing, the increase in poverty would be more,” Chua said.

    “That shows really that we can do two things. Number one provide temporary support to those who are in need. And number two, change our policy to risk management so that we can open up the economy more,” he added.

    Chua cited the improvement in the employment data in July from April, as more people returned to their jobs with the relaxed quarantine measures.

    “So the economy is strong enough to create those jobs if we allow it, because where we are right now is just temporary, forcing the economy not to operate (fully). As it is strong enough, it (jobs) came back immediately,” Chua said.