Poverty incidence in PH declining, DOF says

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    The economic team may consider revising the poverty incidence target of 14 percent by 2022, as it could even fall below that level after it posted a significant drop last year, Department of Finance (DOF) officials said.

    Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, was asked by reporters in a viber message over the weekend if the economic team will consider revising the poverty incidence goal by the end of the administration’s term and aim for a lower figure.

    “That’s certainly possible. Will take it up in the next EDC (economic development cluster) meeting,” Dominguez said.

    Last Friday, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that poverty incidence dropped to 16.6 percent of the population in 2018 from 23.3 percent in 2015, translating to a poverty reduction rate of 2.23 percentage points per annum.

    “We are cutting down the poverty rate by 2.2 percentage points a year, which means that we have enough ammunition to get that poverty rate down further in the future,” Gil Beltran, DOF undersecretary, told reporters at the Bureau of the Treasury in Manila last Friday.

    “The actual (poverty incidence) will be much lower than the target (by 2022) because there are so many laws that were passed that will bring that down,” he added.

    Dominguez said reforms have been put in place to improve the lives of all Filipinos, such as the tax reform, “Build, Build, Build,” rice tariffication, free state universities and colleges tuition, and institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program for the poorest households.

    “These economic reforms have clearly resulted in more money in the pockets of the Filipino people, while reducing inflation and creating more jobs,” Dominguez said.

    “The government will hit its target of pulling down poverty incidence to 14 percent with further reforms such as the full implementation of Universal Health Care and higher sin taxes to ensure sufficient funding for this healthcare program for all Filipinos,” he added.

    Asked about the possible threats to achieving the government’s poverty incidence goal, Beltran cited weather disturbances and natural calamities as possible risks.

    “But given our economy right now, it’s growing at six percent despite the gyrations in world interest rates and exchange rates, and the China-US trade war, we’re doing fine because our growth drivers are domestic,” Beltran said.