Inclusive growth-A A +A
Carl Vinson Apura
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
THE government recently reported that the Philippine economy grew by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and is expecting to hit 7 percent in the second quarter of the year.
Furthermore, the country’s economic indicators likewise seem to be upbeat in the first half of the year with upward trends in the stock market, credit ratings, and peso appreciation.
But for these figures to be significant, the country, especially its poor population must directly benefit from all its gains.
Conversely, survey results from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) for the second quarter of the year showed noteworthy drops in hunger, unemployment, and self-rated poverty.
The SWS survey found the proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger plunging at 18.4 percent from to 23.8 percent in March 2012. Results also showed that overall hunger fell in Luzon but rose in Visayas and Mindanao.
Meanwhile, adult unemployment also fell to 26.6 percent from 34.4 percent in March 2012. The SWS survey result, however, noted that there has been high unemployment rate since 2005 where it went above 20 percent in 23 of 26 surveys from May 2005 to December 2011.
For self-rated poverty, the Social Weather Survey recorded 51 percent or an estimated 10.3 million families who consider themselves poor. This is four points below the 55 percent or an estimated 11.1 million families in March 2012.
Self-rate food poverty also dropped six points from 45 percent in March 2012 to 39 percent in the second quarter.
While the figures seem to be remarkable, the government must establish the direct link of these statistics to the improvement in the well being of the country’s poor population.
Moreover, in the SWS survey, one quarter result does not represent consistency. Here, the effectiveness of government policies and programs remains to be confirmed.
The challenge remains for the current administration to sustain these gains in the economy and in the level of wellbeing among its citizens.
The country still needs better annual trends in poverty, hunger, and unemployment to claim that the quality of life has indeed improved.
Again, the country might be poised for economic growth but this gain must translate to actual poverty reduction and to better social safety nets.
Only then can the Philippines claim genuine development when it is not only enjoyed by the rich but more importantly, by the poor.
As the social welfare agency slogan goes, in the road to progress, no one should be left behind. This is inclusive growth.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 11, 2012.