NEDA: Poverty incidence could fall with full implementation of RH law
MANILA, Philippines – A manageable population is the key to reducing poverty in the country, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
"In 5 years with the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law (RH law), the population could be smaller by 3-5 million people," said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia at a briefing on Thursday, November 3.
The country currently has a poverty incidence of 21.6% based on NEDA's latest available data as of end-2015. This means that around 1.4 million Filipinos have been lifted out of poverty since 2009.
"With full implementation [of the RH law], a poverty incidence rate of 12% is achievable, but it's unlikely that [it] will be fully implemented starting next year because there's a startup lag," Pernia said.
"Maybe by 2018, there's a possibility of full implementation so by the end of the term of the President [in 2022], poverty incidence could be reduced to 13-15%."
The RH law was first enacted in 2012, but its full implementation hit a snag when the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order that prevented the Department of Health from distributing contraceptives.
The SC also prohibited the Food and Drug Administration from "granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices."
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, has pushed for the full implementation of the RH law. Pernia also previously said he would be urging the President to sign an executive order to avoid delays in the RH law's full implementation.
Continued growth for Q3
Pernia pointed out that the ambitious estimate for poverty incidence also assumes that the country's economy will continue to grow at around 7%.
The government's forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) in the 3rd quarter range between 6.3% and 7.3%.
Pernia added that the forecast for the entire 2016 is expected to fall within the same range, although a target of 6.5% to 6.6% is more achievable.
"On the positive side, infrastructure spending has accelerated but exports are not doing well," he explained.
Public spending jumped 33.7% in August alone, according to the Department of Budget and Management, with most of it going to new road networks and maintenance.
The country's export sector, however, has been on a prolonged downturn this year due to weak global demand, with latest data showing the sector falling by 4.4% in August. Exports have fallen 7.8% from January to August of this year.
Pernia said the loss of election-related spending that helped in the 1st half of the year is also expected to be felt, but the agricultural sector is expected to improve, albeit slightly.
"I think we'll have better performance on agriculture. It was negative in the 2nd quarter so for Q3 it will be a smaller negative or flat." – Rappler.com