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NEDA: More government aid for poor

Balisacan: Cash assist, food dole-outs fast-tracked to fight inflation

The government is fast-tracking the distribution of cash aid to the poor and vulnerable sectors and increasing the food supply in the country “to give Filipinos a comfortable life,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Saturday.

Balisacan, also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said poverty incidence could have been higher had the government failed to further reopen the economy and distribute targeted subsidies to low-income households, public utility drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk.

This was indicated in a recent Social Weather Stations survey that revealed about 49 percent of Filipino families see themselves as poor.

There was a rise in inflation at the time the SWS surveyed 1,500 respondents on September 29 to October 2, thus the rise by 1 percent from the previous poll, Balisacan stressed.

About 29 percent placed themselves at the “borderline” dividing the poor and not poor, while 21 percent considered themselves as not NEDA:…poor, according to the survey.

But the Marcos administration is implementing measures to revitalize the economy and help lift more Filipinos out of poverty, the NEDAchief assured.

The results of the survey were “expected, given the acceleration of inflation, particularly in food and transport, during the period,” Balisacan said in a statement.

The SWS poll is likewise “not comparable with the government’s official poverty estimates based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) surveys,” the NEDA statement added.

Preliminary estimates by the PSA revealed that the country’s poverty incidence was at 18.1% in 2021, which translates to 19.99 million poor Filipinos, up from 17.67 million in 2018.

The PSA defines poverty incidence as the proportion of Filipinos whose per capita income cannot sufficiently meet their individual basic food and non-food needs.

In an earlier statement, Balisacan explained that essential commodities and inputs for food value chains are experiencing substantial supply constraints.

He this attributed to the continuing Russia-Ukraine conflict and the series of natural calamities that have dampened agricultural production in many countries, including the Philippines.

“Note that inflation has been coming partly from external factors, including global supply disruptions caused by the Ukraine-Russia war,” he said.

“Moving forward, we need to speed up providing financial assistance to the poor (and) most vulnerable groups, implementing our foodproduction enhancement programs, and executing timely food importation,” Balisacan added.

To manage economic risks and address inflation, Mr. Marcos met with his economic team on Tuesday to discuss the policy directions for the rest of 2022 until the first quarter of 2023.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday, the President allayed concerns over soaring inflation, noting that the overall forecast for the Philippines is still “better than other countries”.

Balisacan also said the Philippines and its Asian neighbors are not spared from the inflation trends, pointing out that major economies of Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, have seen their inflation rates accelerate in the past year.

He said the economic team expects the rise in inflation to be temporary, as it is likely to slow down and return to the medium-term target of 2 percent to 4 percent.

The World Bank, in its October forecast, expected the Philippines to grow by 6.5 percent in 2022, second only to Vietnam among major Asean economies, and by 5.8 percent in 2023, faster than Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand Based on the preliminary results of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority released in August, poverty incidence among the population, defined as the proportion of

Filipinos whose per capita income cannot sufficiently meet the individual basic food and non-food needs, was recorded at 18.1 percent.

It translates to about 19.99 million Filipinos who lived below the poverty threshold of about PHP12,030 per month for a family of five.

Among families, about 3.5 million families, or 13.2 percent of the total population of about 110 million, were considered poor in 2021.


Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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