More Filipinos poor in 2014

MORE FILIPINOS were poor in the first half of 2014 than they were in the same period of 2013, figures released yesterday by the Philippine Statistics Authority show.

From January to June last year, poverty incidence among Filipino individuals based on PSA’s latest Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) was at 25.8 percent. This is higher than the 24.6 percent poverty incidence during the same period of 2013.

Among Filipino families, poverty incidence increased by 1.1 percentage points to 20 percent from 18.8 percent over the same period.

National Economic Development Authority (Neda) 7 Director Efren Carreon, when asked about the report, said, “I have yet to see the official results for Central Visayas but I am hopeful that CV will continue to experience decreasing poverty incidence among families as what happened from 2006 (30.7 percent) to 2012 (25.7 percent).”

Poverty incidence among Filipinos is the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population. Batanes, however, on account of having less than 100 sample households, and the typhoon-affected Leyte were not included in the survey.

Neda attributed the worsening situation to typhoon Yolanda which ravaged some parts of Visayas in November 2013 and the increasing food prices, particularly rice, despite the fact that per capita income in the same period increased by 6.4 percent than in 2013.

“The very high prices of food wiped out the gains in per capita income. This situation could have been avoided especially in the case of rice, which is a staple food for low-income and vulnerable families, usually accounting for 20 percent of their budget. Just at the time when the world price of rice was declining, the domestic price of rice was skyrocketing,” said Neda Director-General Arsenio Balisacan in a news report.

Prices of rice posted a growth of 11.9 percent in the first semester of 2014 from only 1.7 percent in the first half of 2013.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Food increased by 6.49 percent between first semesters of 2013 and 2014.

Data from PSA further revealed that during the first semester of 2014, a family of five needed at least P6,125 on the average every month to meet the family’s basic food needs and at least P8,778 on the average every month to meet both basic food and non-food needs.

“The proportion of the population deemed poor based on official poverty lines has remained high since 2003, with about a quarter of the population considered income poor,” said Balisacan in his speech at the First Management Association of the Philippines Economic Briefing last year, as published in Neda’s website.

For Central Visayas, Carreon noted that Negros Oriental consistently had the highest poverty incidence in the region, based on the 2006 to 2012 data he presented. Cebu, meanwhile, registered an 18.9 percent poverty incidence among families in 2012, the latest he has presented.
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