THE government of President Rodrigo R. Duterte expects to beat its anti-poverty goal of 14% by 2022 as reforms such as universal health care help more poor people, the Finance department said.
“That’s certainly possible,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters when asked if the poverty incident could be even better than the target.
The poverty incidence dropped to 16.6% in 2018 from the revised 23.3% in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
“We are cutting down the poverty rate by 2.2 percentage points a year, which means that we have enough ammunition to get that poverty rate down further in the future,” Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran told reporters on Friday.
He said several laws have been passed that would further bring down the poverty level.
“Reforms have been put in place by President Duterte to improve the lives of all Filipinos,” Mr. Beltran said, citing tax reform, infrastructure spending, rice tariffication, free college education and cash assistance to poor households.
“These economic reforms have clearly resulted in more money in the pockets of the Filipino people, while reducing inflation and creating more jobs,” he said in a Viber group message.
The government said Filipinos within the poverty threshold stood at 17.6 million in 2018 from 23.5 million in 2015. Poverty incidence among Filipino families also declined to 12.1% in 2018 from 2015’s 17.9%.
Mr. Beltran, who is also the department’s chief economist, said more laws would help the poverty rate to go down further, including the national ID system, which will give the poor more access to financial services.
The Rice Tariffication law has also brought down the poverty rate because of lower rice prices, Mr. Beltran said.
The government will also offer cash assistance, low-interest loans and insurance products to rice farmers affected by plummeting farmgate prices.
The per capita poverty threshold last year was P2,145.36 a month compared with P1,890.44 in 2015. The monthly poverty threshold for a family of five was P10,726.79 in 2018 compared with P9,452.18 in 2015. — Beatrice M. Laforga