To lower poverty rate, gov’t will improve population program

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    THE Duterte government is intensifying its population management program to lower the poverty rate to its target of 14 percent by 2022 or lower if possible, Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a briefing in Malacañang yesterday.

    Pernia said part of the intensified family planning program is providing access to family planning services to women or couples who desire to have fewer children.

    He said managing the size of the family is “an important instrument in bringing down poverty,” as a couple could decide as to how many children they would have and provide for.

    Pernia said the Philippines had an “honest to goodness” family planning program in 70s but due to the “demands of conservative groups,” it was not sustained and had been a “costly failure” for the country.

    Pernia said countries like Thailand and Malaysia launched similar programs after the Philippines adopted its population management program but the two countries sustained theirs unlike the Philippines.

    “We have not really had an honest-to-goodness family planning program. So that explains why the poverty incidence in the other countries like Thailand and Malaysia and Indonesia is much lower than in the Philippines,” he said.

    He said the poverty incidence in the Philippines is now at 16.6 percent while it is at 8.3 percent in Thailand and 10 to 11 percent in Malaysia.

    “This program has been neglected by the previous administrations, but now it is going full steam,” Pernia said.

    Pernia said the Philippines’ poverty rate is now at 16.6 percent, or 2.6 percent away from the administration’s target of 14 percent by 2022. It could further go down to about 11 percent or even lower if the government could sustain its and anti-poverty measures, he said.

    The rate is down from 23 percent which he said means about 5.9 million persons have been lifted from poverty as of 2018. The target is 5.9 million persons by 2022.

    These measures also include improving the employment rate, institutionalizing conditional cash transfer program, and providing fuel subsidies to jeepney drivers.

    Pernia said the government will update its midterm Philippine Development Plan and may have to change its poverty rate target which he said may even go down to “10 to 12 percent.”

    The Philippine Statistics Authority said a family of five needs a minimum of P10,727 to support its monthly needs for food and non-food items.