The Philippine Star
November 29, 2021 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The number of Filipino families who classified themselves as poor decreased from an estimated 12 million in June 2021 to around 11.4 million in September 2021.
Results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) national self-rated poverty survey released over the weekend show that those who considered themselves “mahirap” (poor) decreased to 45 percent as compared to June’s 48 percent.
The same poll showed that those who rated themselves as borderline poor by placing themselves on the horizontal line dividing poor and not poor increased from 29 percent to 34 percent.
Conducted from Sept. 12 to 16 among 1,200 respondents, the survey also showed that 21 percent believed themselves to be “not poor,” compared to the previous 23 percent.
“The estimated numbers of self-rated poor families are 11.4 million in September 2021 and 12.0 million in June 2021,” the SWS said.
“Compared to June 2021, Self-Rated Poor fell in the Visayas from 70 percent to 54 percent. It fell in Metro Manila from 43 percent to 34 percent. It stayed at 38 percent in Balance Luzon from June 2021 to September 2021. However, it rose in Mindanao from 51 percent to 58 percent,” SWS said.
It added that borderline poor rose in the Visayas from 24 percent in June 2021 to 42 percent in September 2021 as well as in Metro Manila from 19 percent to 30 percent.
“It rose slightly in Balance Luzon from 28 percent to 32 percent. However, it fell in Mindanao from 42 percent to 34 percent,” the survey firm said.
Compared to June 2021, the survey results said the not poor hardly changed in all areas as it went from seven percent to four percent in the Visayas, from 38 percent to 37 percent in Metro Manila, from 34 percent to 30 percent in balance Luzon, and from seven percent to eight percent in Mindanao.
In the same survey, Filipino families who consider themselves as food-poor reached 30 percent, the borderline food-poor are 44 percent, and the not food-poor 26 percent.
“This compares to June 2021 when 32 percent felt Food-Poor, 38 percent felt Borderline Food-Poor, and 29 percent felt Not Food-Poor. The estimated numbers of Self-Rated Food Poor families are 7.5 million in September 2021 and 8.2 million in June 2021,” it said.
Fewer poor due to economic reopening
Malacañang attributed the decrease in the percentage of Filipino families who regard themselves as poor to the reopening of the economy.
“The results of the survey – particularly the decrease of Filipino families rating themselves as ‘mahirap,’ from 48 percent in June 2021 to 45 percent in September 2021 – show that progress has been made in our efforts to reopen the economy and bounce back from the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement.
“The government believes that the increase in percentage of the vaccinated population and the drop in new COVID infections put us in a position to safely expand economic activities that will positively impact employment and reduce poverty,” he added.
Citing estimates by the government’s economic team, Nograles said placing Metro Manila, the country’s trade and business center, under Alert Level 2, with health and safety protocols still in place, would boost the economy by P3.6 billion and employment by 16,000 per week.
“We thank those in government, the private sector, and our people for doing their part to revitalize our economy so that we can resume the positive strides we were making in reducing poverty prior to the pandemic,” he added.
Nograles said the survey provides the government with useful indicators it can use to calibrate its programs and policies. – Michael Punongbayan, Alexis Romero, Delon Porcalla
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the House ways and means committee, believes that the government’s deficit this year will be smaller than expected by the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) as “revenues recover and spending mildly decelerates.”
“The deficit cap is P1.9 trillion this year, or around 9.3 percent of gross domestic product. As of October, we are just at P1.2 trillion. That’s around 63 percent of the deficit, with just one quarter left. We are very likely to see deficit hit just P1.7 trillion when the year ends. That’s lower by around P200 billion, which is of course good for our fiscal space,” he said.
Salceda, the House’s main resident-economist, described this as generally “good news” as he pointed out that the lower-than-expected deficit is largely due to revenue recovery.
“In 2020, we raised P2.855 trillion in revenues. After three quarters, we are now at 87.2 percent of that figure, or P2.49 trillion. I am confident we will be very close to 2019 levels, or pre-pandemic revenues, once all the revenues are totaled in. I credit this recovery in revenues to the resiliency of our tax system due to the comprehensive tax reform program,” he added.
At the same time, Salceda also said that tax effort is likely to be the highest since 1997, the year when the first Comprehensive Tax Reform Program was enacted under the Ramos administration. Tax effort is the ratio of tax collections to gross domestic product.
“We are probably hitting 14.8 percent tax effort this year. That’s higher than anything we have had since 1997. Every administration that confronted a crisis saw its tax effort decline,” he pointed out.