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Government trims growth target, seeks to lower poverty rate

A homeless mother and her children sleep on the sidewalk at the junction of Osmeña Boulevard and P. del Rosario St., Cebu City. (Ventures Cebu photo)

From the original target band of 6% to 7%, gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for 2019 has been trimmed to 6% to 6.5%.

At the same time, government is eyeing to reduce the poverty rate to 14% from the 16.6% reported in 2018.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) adjusted the GDP growth target after revisiting its macroeconomic assumptions on December 11, 2019.

For 2020, the growth target remains at 6.5% to 7.5%. For 2021 and 2022, the target range has been downscaled to the 2020 level of 6.5% to 7.5% from the original goal of 7% to 8%.

“For the year, we’re actually proposing a tighter band because we already have the first-quarter to third-quarter numbers—if we say it’s 6-7 percent, then it’s no longer credible given that we already have the first three quarters,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon was quoted as saying.

The economy fell short of the target in the first and second quarters of the year as it grew only by 5.6% and 5.5%, respectively. The economy recovered a bit in the third quarter, expanding by 6.2%.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported a poverty incidence of 16.6% for 2018.

Poverty incidence is the proportion of poor Filipinos whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs.

NEDA set the poverty threshold at P10,727 for a family of five per month in 2018.

A poverty rate of 16.6% translates to 17.6 million Filipinos who lived below the poverty threshold, PSA said.

Subsistence incidence, or the proportion of Filipinos whose income is not enough to meet even the basic food needs, was registered at 5.2% in 2018.

The monthly food threshold for a family of five was estimated, on average, at P7,528.

NEDA director-general and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said jobs generation, conditional cash transfers and tax reform helped improve the living conditions of Filipino families in 2018.

He said sustained implementation of family planning programs is crucial in poverty reduction. (Ventures Cebu)

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