Poverty remains the most critical social problem that needs to be addressed. Philippines' poverty line marks individuals earning less than 16,841 Peso a year.According to the data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, more than one-quarter (26.5%) of the population falls below the poverty line in 2009.]This figure is a much lower figure as compared to the 33.1% in 1991. The decline has been slow and uneven, much slower than neighboring countries who experienced broadly similar numbers in the 1980s, such as People's Republic of China (PRC), Thailand, Indonesia (which poverty level lies at 8.5%) or Vietnam (13.5%). This shows that the incidence of poverty has remained significantly high as compared to other countries for almost a decade now. The unevenness of the decline has been attributed to a large range of income brackets across regions and sectors, and also unmanaged population growth. The Philippines poverty rate is roughly the same level as Haiti. The government planned to eradicate poverty as stated in the Philippines Development Plan (PDP). The PDP for the next six years are an annual economic growth of 7-8% and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Under the MDGs, Philippines committed itself to halving extreme poverty from a 33.1% in 1991 to 16.6% by 2015. Understanding Philippine poverty
Understanding Philippine poverty
By BERNARDO VILLEGAS
MANILA, Philippines – There have literally been dozens of studies on Philippine poverty over the last decade or so, by economists in Philippine universities, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other international agencies. The latest one is entitled "Examining recent trends in poverty, inequality, and vulnerability" written by Dr. Jose Ramon Albert and Mr. Andre Philippe Ramos of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) which has produced over the years some very useful policy-oriented studies that can guide decision making in both the government and the private sector. The conclusion of the study is not a very happy one. As based on statistics released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) for 2000, 2003, and 2006, poverty in the Philippines is seen not to have substantially changed since the start of the millennium. Although there was a reduction of the proportion of the population who were considered poor from 33.6 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2003, the poverty rate in 2006 increased to practically where it was at the beginning of the millennium at 32.9 percent. Poverty has remained mostly unchanged and has also continued to be a predominantly rural phenomenon, with three out of every four persons found in the rural areas. The outlook looks even bleaker if the Philippine economy continues to grow at the same pace as it did in the last decade or so. It will take more than 17 years for half of the poor to exit poverty even if the per capita incomes of all persons in the country were to increase uniformly by 2 percent annually (adjusted for inflation). It will take an average time of 40 years for the poor to exit poverty if annual growth per capita is at 1 percent. It is quite evident from these projections that the Philippine economy must grow at 7 percent or more annually for the next ten or more years for there to be a significant reduction in poverty. A 7 percent growth in GDP would mean about 5 percent annual growth in per capita income since population growth is a little under 2 percent per annum. The experiences of the East Asian countries over the last twenty years (especially China) is that a growth of at least 7 percent in GDP annually for 20 years or more can make a significant dent on mass poverty. The Philippines has not attained this sustained growth of 7 percent or more over the last two decades mainly because of flawed economic policies based on import-substitution industrialization and an utter neglect of countryside and agricultural...