Poverty level drops for the first time


By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – The March Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in the first semester of 2015 showed that the country’s poverty level eased off at 26.3 percent.

According to PSA, the 2012 record of the same study was estimated at around 27.9 percent.

In another report by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director-General Rosemarie Edillon, said that the 26.3 percent poverty incidence in the first trimester of 2015 is a “record-low” across all the FIES since 2006.

“We note that family income in the second semester of the year is usually higher than the first semester. Thus, we expect that full-year poverty incidence will be lower than the 26.3 percent poverty incidence recorded in the first semester of 2015. The full-year estimate is between 23.6 percent and 23.8 percent. This is close to the high-end target of 20 to 23 percent for 2015,” Edillon said.

Edillon also pointed out the steady decline in income inequality, citing the increases in income being more progressive as one of the reasons with incomes of the 30 percent of the population has been continuously rising faster than those in higher income classes.

“The acceleration in poverty reduction is likely the result of a faster increase in real incomes in the last three years, as incomes rose faster than the rise in prices. Whereas the growth of average nominal per capita income accelerated from 12.8 percent in 2009-2012 to 15.3 percent in 2012-2015, inflation decelerated from 12.1 percent in 2009-2012 to 9.5 percent in respectively 2012-201,” Edillon also said.

“The rate of decline between the first semester of 2006 and the same period in 2015 could have been faster, if not for the occurrences of major shocks, particularly from natural calamities like Typhoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake and man-made disasters like the Zamboanga siege,” Edillon added.

Meanwhile NEDA and PSA also reported about the subsistence incidence among Filipinos (proportion of Filipinos whose incomes fall below the food threshold/ proportion of Filipinos in extreme or subsistence poverty) at 12.1 percent in the first semester of 2015.

Based on PSA’s data, the subsistence report in the first half of 2012 is at 13.4 percent.

According to NEDA, the country’s subsistence incidence “also reflected a sustained downward trend across all years” with subsistence incidence recorded its first single-digit occurrence by 9.2 percent among families.

NEDA also revealed that income distribution has improved as the per capita income of the bottom 30 percent of households grew much faster with over 20 percent in 2012-2015 than the average of all income households, which grew by 15.3 percent.

“These numbers send a strong signal that our efforts in the past years to foster inclusive growth and good governance have translated to actual and tangible improvements in the lives of our people. The well-targeted social protection programs, such as the 4Ps proved vital in helping the poor to get back up after going through major shocks. At the same time, we know that the conditions imposed on the 4Ps beneficiaries will make for a more robust poverty reduction in the future,” Edillon said.

Food and Poverty Thresholds
According to PSA, the food threshold is the minimum income required to meet basic food needs and satisfy the nutritional requirements set by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) to ensure that one remains economically and socially productive.

Poverty threshold, on the other hand, is expanded to include basic non-food commodities such as clothing, housing, transportation, health and education expenses.

Based on PSA’s data, in the first semester of 2015, a family of five needed at least PHP 6,365 every month on the average to meet the family’s basic food needs and at least PHP 9,140 every month on the average to meet both food and non-food commodities. These amounts represent food and poverty thresholds, respectively.

According to PSA, the food and poverty threshold both indicate increases of about 17 percent in food and poverty thresholds from the first semester of 2012 to the first semester of 2015.

Poverty and Filipino families
The poverty incidence among Filipino families based on the first 2015 FIES is at 21.1 percent. In 2012, it was estimated at 23.3 percent.

The proportion of families in extreme poverty was estimated at 9.2 percent in the first semester of 2015 while in 2012, it was estimated at 10.0 percent

PSA also released another statistics on poverty gap – it refers to the income shortfall of families with income below the poverty threshold divided by the total number of families. In the first semester of 2015, incomes of poor families were short by 29.9 percent of the poverty threshold.

According to PSA, this means that on an average, a poor family with five members will need an additional income of PHP 2,649 to move out of poverty.

In another report posted by news.abs-cbn.com, poverty incidence in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Regions 4A, 8, 12, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) went up from 2006 to 2015.

In the first semester of 2015 the poverty incidence stood as 26.3 percent and 28.8 percent in 2006 with regions such as NCR, Regions 4A, 8, 12, and ARMM with visible increase.

“In terms of the percentage increase in poverty thresholds between the first semester of 2012 and 2015, it is observed that the poverty thresholds of Bataan, Cavite and Western Samar increased by more than 30 percent. For the increase and decrease of provincial poverty incidence among population, between the first semesters of 2012 and 2015, it is observed that Apayao’s poverty incidence among population decreased by 20.9 percent,” National Statistician Lisa Bersales said.

“On the other hand, the poverty incidence among population of Sulu increased by more than 20 percent between the first semester of 2012 and 2015. As we have done in the past, we do not rank the provinces one by one. Instead, we cluster them according to poverty incidence among families.”

“Based on our clustering, Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Northern Samar and Sarangani were classified in the poorest cluster of provinces in the first semester of 2012 and 2015. On the other hand, Cavite, Ilocos Norte, Rizal, the 3rd and 4th districts of NCR are consistently included in the least poor cluster of provinces in the first semester of 2012 and 2015,” Bersales added.