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Gov’t hopes to achieve key development goals by 2022

THE GOVERNMENT’S goal to bring down poverty rate to 14% and lift the economy’s status to the upper-middle income group next year can still be achieved despite the impact of the pandemic, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

Mr. Chua, who also heads the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said these key development goals, which the Duterte administration adopted in 2016, will be kept in the updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

“[These goals can still be achieved since] we had advanced progress for both in 2018 and 2020 before the pandemic,” he told BusinessWorld.

Under the PDP, the government aimed to reduce the poverty rate to 14% and to become an upper-middle income economy by 2022.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reversed the country’s gains in poverty reduction, with the World Bank estimating 2.7 million more Filipinos have slipped into poverty (living below $3.2 a day) last year due to job losses and lower incomes.

Latest data showed poverty incidence — the proportion of Filipinos whose incomes were below the poverty threshold — declined to 16.7% in 2018 from the revised 23.5% in 2015, or equivalent to 5.9 million Filipinos lifted out of poverty.

The pandemic also derailed the Philippines’ goal to become an upper-middle economy by 2020. Latest World Bank data showed the Philippines remained as a lower-middle income economy with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of $3,850 in 2019, edging up from 2018’s $3,170.

The country’s GNI relative to its population will have to hit the $4,046-$12,535 income bracket to reach upper-middle income status.

The NEDA board, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, on Jan. 7 approved the country’s revised medium-term economic development blueprint. The full report will be launched on Feb. 4. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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