PH poverty in H1 2012 unchanged from 2006

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The country's poverty incidence stood at 27.9% in the first semester of 2012, virtually unchanged from the same period in 2006 and 2009. 

Poverty incidence in the same period in 2009 was 28.6% and in 2006, 28.8%, National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said in a press conference on Tuesday, April 23.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the poverty statistics were "not the dramatic results that we wanted."

The government considers a Filipino family poor if monthly earnings are less than the poverty threshold. In the 1st semester of 2012, poverty threshold for a family of 5 was at P5,458 per month to meet basic food needs.

The same family required only P1,681 in 2006 and P2,042 in 2009 to leave the ranks of the poor.

If non-food needs -- such as clothing, housing, transportation, health, and education expenses, and others -- are added to the threshold, cut off in 2012 went up to P7,821 earnings a month.

Here are highlights of the new poverty data:

"The problem of poverty requires a comprehensive, multi-pronged, multi-sectoral solution involving many stakeholders...The updated PDP will explicitly consider the regional dimension in crafting the strategies for development. We are serious about the fight against poverty and we are mindful of our commitments to the MDG (millenium development goals)," Balisacan stressed.

"By the end of [President Benigno Aquino III's] term 9 [in 2016], government programs will already have statistical impact," added National Anti-Poverty Commission chair Joel Rocamora.

Inclusive growth

The level of poverty in the country remained a concern despite glowing reports and impressions about the Philippine economy in general.

The economy's performance in 2012 was well above the expansion of 3.9% in 2011 and surpassed the government's own target of 5% to 6% for 2012.

Consumption was stronger than ever as 2012 inflation was at a five-year low at 3.2%. This is within the government's inflation target of 3% to 5% until 2016.

But Filipinos not only spent their hard-earned money, they also saved for the rainy day. The government said that for the 4th consecutive year when Filipino household's became the primary savings driver in the country.

Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that Filipino household's savings increased by 6.3% to P909.8 billion, making it the prime savings driver in the economy.

These factors were enough to convince Fitch Ratings to finally give the Philippines' its first investment grade rating of BBB- .

By upgrading the Philippines' sovereign credit rating, Fitch gave the country a vote of confidence, and marked the first time the Philippines, once a basket case in Asia, joins the A-lister countries considered safe to invest in.

In 2009, the country's poverty incidence was at 26.5%, an increase from 26.4% in 2006 on the back of various factors such as the food crisis in 2008, the global financial crisis in 2009, and destructive typhoons.

This is the first time the government is releasing a once-in-3-years poverty report that does not cover a full year data. -