By Cai Ordinario, March 14 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to CNN Philippines

THE Duterte administration can say goodbye to its goal of bringing down poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 if the House of Representatives and the Senate will not be able to resolve the impasse on the 2019 budget.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said on Wednesday that the reenactment of the budget will have “serious implications” on job creation and poverty reduction, especially if the reenactment of the budget happens for the entire year.

“Given our high poverty incidence, we are not going to be helped in terms of reducing our high poverty rate with this reenacted budget,” Pernia told reporters in an interview. “If it [reenacted budget] is the whole year, surely it will not help.”

Based on the 2015 poverty estimates, the country’s poverty incidence was at 21.6 percent, 3.6 percentage points lower than the 25.2 percent recorded in 2012.

This translates to as much as 21.927 million poor Filipinos in 2015, or a reduction of 1.819 million from 23.746 million in 2012.

The reenacted budget could make the country’s goals of lifting millions from poverty even more difficult considering that poverty incidence likely went up in 2018.

The poverty data is based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted every three years.

In 2018 the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducted the survey and the first semester results will be released before June.

Some economists fear that the picture may not be as rosy given the high commodity prices seen in 2018. The increase in the price of rice was a key factor that caused inflation to accelerate.

UP School of Statistics Dean Dennis Mapa said food inflation, especially for the poorest 30 percent, reached 7.1 percent last year.

This could worsen poverty, especially among farmers and fishermen who are considered among the near-poor.

Reducing the country’s poverty rate to 14 percent by 2022 is a crucial step to meeting the Philippines’s commitment under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eradicate poverty by 2030.

The goal of the SDGs is to end poverty in all its forms. The first target under this goal is to eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2030.