Government targets single-digit poverty rate by 2028

The government targets to reduce the country’s poverty to a single-digit figure by 2028.

In his first State of the Nation Address in 2022, President  President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. Marcos vowed to bring down poverty to as low as 9 percent by the end of his term.

Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) latest data showed the country’s poverty rate already declined to 22.4% in the first half of 2023 from 23.7% in the same period in 2021. This translates to 25.24 million Filipinos whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs, down from 2021’s estimate of 26.14 million poor Filipinos.

Across the country, poverty incidence decreased in 15 out of the 17 regions from 2021 to 2023, declining significantly in National Capital Region, Cordillera Administrative Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.

National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier said the full reopening of the Philippine economy and the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions helped the economy recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

“Notably, in the first three quarters of 2023, the Philippines demonstrated remarkable resilience amid all challenges, with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate averaging at 5.5%, placing us among the best-performing economies in Asia,” Balisacan said.

Economic growth was mainly driven by robust domestic demand and broad-based expansion in major sectors. “In the face of many domestic and international challenges, we have effectively implemented the appropriate strategies to sustain the economy’s forward momentum,” Balisacan explained.

He said the real GDP per capita already recovered and exceeded its pre-pandemic level, and most sectors even surpassed their pre-pandemic performance. The government aims to achieve a 6-7% growth in 2023 and accelerate GDP expansion to 6.5 to 7.5% this year.

For 2025 to 2028, the government has set a 6.5-8.0% economic growth target. 

Among the major growth drivers, he said, is higher infrastructure spending boosted by the construction of its 197 infrastructure flagship projects amounting to P8.7 trillion. These projects aim to address the economy’s long-standing infrastructure deficits.

“Such gaps act as binding constraints to business investment and expansion. Again, the goal is to generate more well-paying and secure jobs for Filipino workers. This is crucial in substantially decreasing our country’s poverty rate to single-digit levels by 2028 from 18.1 percent in 2021,” Balisacan said.

Aside from pushing for reforms to accelerate growth, the government also aims to further ramp up efforts to tame inflation. Headline inflation which reached an all-time high of 8.7% in January last year, already fell to a 22-month low of 3.9% in December 2023.

Balisacan said “government interventions, such as the Targeted Cash Transfer Program, fuel subsidy, one-time rice allowance, and the Libreng Sakay Program, helped mitigate the adverse effects of inflation on poor households.” 

For this year until 2028, he said the government expects headline inflation to moderate and settle within the 2.0 to 4.0% target.

Despite the deceleration in inflation, the government will continue to implement measures to ensure that prices of commodities are stable, Balisacan added, and that one of such measures is the issuance of Executive Order 50 which extended the Most Favored Nation reduced tariff rates for key agricultural commodities like pork, corn and rice to ensure sufficient food supply for Filipinos, and prevent spikes in prices of these commodities.

“Amid an uptrend in international rice prices and the expected negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon, the Inter-agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook will closely monitor the situation and propose further temporary tariff adjustments if necessary,” he assured.

“We will also push for trade facilitation measures to reduce other non-tariff barriers. While our medium-term objective to boost agricultural productivity remains, it is important to augment domestic supply to ease inflationary pressures on consumers, particularly those in low-income households,” he said.

Balisacan said the government will ensure the effective implementation of various initiatives and interventions in the social sector to reduce poverty at both the national and regional levels.

“These include the effective implementation of the new Social Protection Floor that institutionalizes basic social security guarantees, the passage of the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act and the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Program, as well as the establishment of the Walang Gutom 2027 Food Stamp Program,” he added.

He said the government will prioritize creating high-quality and high-paying jobs by focusing on attracting job-generating investments from the private sector and scaling up social and physical infrastructure to improve people’s employment prospects, while it also push initiatives to improve the quality of education in the country.

Balisacan said the government will also ensure the implementation of sound macroeconomic fundamentals to sustain growth in the medium and long term, as well as continue to facilitate policy initiatives to create an enabling environment for investments, trade, and innovation.

“Through the recently enacted Public-Private Partnership or PPP Code, we aim to reinforce the country’s investment ecosystem and provide private-sector investors with a more stable and predictable policy environment to advance our development efforts. These programs will generate more high-quality jobs, create various opportunities for Filipino workers, and contribute to our goal of significantly reducing poverty in the country,” he further explained. (With PNA)