New dev’t plan to address persisting poverty, inequality among Filipinos — NEDA

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reaffirmed the government’s commitment to significantly reduce poverty and inequality in the Philippines through the upcoming Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2023-2028.

In his keynote address at the launch of the World Bank Philippines’ report on overcoming poverty and inequality on November 24, NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan expressed that the upcoming PDP—anchored on the 8-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Marcos administration—is designed to address the persisting multi-generational inequality and poverty among Filipino families.

[Watch the livestream of World Bank’s “Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in the Philippines: Past, Present, and Prospects for the Future”]

“In particular, initiatives to boost health, improve education and lifelong learning, increase income-earning ability, ensure food security and proper nutrition, and rationalize social protection will be among the main policy thrusts of the PDP,” said Balisacan.

“We aim to sustain the socioeconomic gains in the past decade for at least two more decades, in the hope of attaining the AmBisyon Natin 2040, which states that all Filipinos will enjoy a firmly rooted, comfortable, and secure life by 2040,” said Balisacan.

The Secretary stressed however, that the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted this progress and exacerbated existing issues, affecting vulnerable Filipinos most especially in the form of learning losses.

“These could constrain future efforts to further reduce poverty and inequality. The pandemic has accelerated the shift in the types and quality of jobs that could disproportionately affect the poor, especially those who cannot ride this wave of digitalization. Job polarization could affect overall productivity in the years to come,” Balisacan stated.

In response to World Bank Philippines, he commended their report as it complements the current administration’s goal of addressing lifetime and generational inequality and poverty and of achieving a single-digit poverty level by 2028.

“The report provides a sweeping picture of how inequality and poverty are entrenched over a person’s life cycle—from maternal health that impacts mother and child, to children’s access to education and health services, and to employment and income opportunities. Interventions, therefore, must encompass this whole life cycle,” Balisacan said.

The World Bank report highlighted the country’s significant progress in reducing poverty, owing, in part, to sustained economic growth and structural transformation. The report showed that between 1985 and 2018, poverty in the Philippines fell by two-thirds. It also cites how the expansion of secondary education, mobility to better-paying jobs, and social assistance programs—such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)—became contributing factors to reducing poverty in the country.

Nonetheless, the World Bank reveals that inequality in the country remains high, underscoring that the top 1 percent of Filipino earners contribute to 17 percent of national income while only 14 percent comes from the bottom 50 percent. The report further finds that persistent inequality limits the potential of Filipinos to acquire better opportunities.

“We must urgently address these challenges so that we do not backslide and instead sustain our efforts towards sustainable and inclusive economic development. The World Bank’s new Poverty and Inequality Report is a welcome analytical piece that is both timely and relevant,” affirmed the Secretary.