Poverty Level May Increase Due To The Pandemic
The poverty rate is measured every 3 years. Gleaning from the last data released by the government, the latest survey conducted was in 2018 where it showed a rate of 16.7%. Government projections for the succeeding years may be worse or at least slower than what was pronounced in 2018 due to the pandemic.
According to the acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Kar Kendrick Chua, the government projected a poverty rate of 15.5% to 17.5% of the population next year.
In a statement, Chua told senators that there might be a temporary worsening of urban poor poverty due to the effect of the pandemic to livelihoods. He added that the pandemic and quarantine measures largely affected urban areas and it did not have the same threatening impact on the livelihood in rural areas.
The strong likelihood of the poverty rate to increase next years is an indication that the government may potentially miss its 14% target by 2020, translating to thousands of more Filipinos getting pulled back below the poverty line.
While the economic managers are optimistic that a rebound will happen next year, Senators remain to be and are calling for more funds for social support under the proposed ₱4.5-trillion 2021 national outlay.
For one, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian questioned the 53% budget cut on the social welfare department. Chua explained that there is less need for costly temporary assistance such as the ₱205 billion social amelioration program (which ballooned DSWD’s budget this year) because the economy is now open.
The economic managers also stressed that even without the cash subsidy, the government continues to provide other typical support, including its flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino, monthly cash assistance to 4.3 million families, which will get a bigger ₱108-billion budget next year.
Government labor agencies are also set to spend ₱27.5 billion for local employees in 2021. Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Associate (OWWA) will spend ₱5.9 billion for OFWs. The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will also be allocated with ₱554 million for vocational training.
Chua remarked that as long as the quarantine levels will be continuously relaxed, the economy will be strong enough to recover.