A CIVIL SOCIETY GROUP advocating citizens’ participation in public finance has challenged the Aquino administration’s latest poverty statistics that tend to show a significant cut in poverty rates.
Social Watch Philippines convenor Prof. Marivic Raquiza said the latest announcement of the Philippine Statistics Authority that poverty incidence dropped from 27.9 percent in 2012 to 24.9 percent in the first half of 2013 was both confusing and misleading.
For one, it seems that the government has suddenly shifted in the kind of statistics it uses in order to measure poverty.
“This is the first time that the Annual Poverty Indicator Survey (APIS) has been used as basis for official poverty figures. In the past, poverty incidence has been officially measured by the authorities using the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES),” Raquiza said.
The FIES provides data on both family income and expenditures, and includes details such as levels of consumption by item and sources of income. Social Watch says FIES “specifically discusses levels of living and disparities in income and spending patterns of families.”
On the other hand, the APIS is a nationwide survey “that presents data on the socioeconomic profile of Filipino families, and other information that relates to their living conditions.”
The results of the surveys from APIS is annual while the FIES is every three years.
Raquiza said she wonders if government would have been able to report the same rosy figures had it used the FIES, as it always had in the past.
“Announcements about poverty data must be made with more clarity and transparency, especially about assumptions and methods used in its measurements of poverty. In particular, we wonder, if the data from FIES is utilized, would we still see a significant decline in poverty incidence,” Raquiza asked.
Social Watch lead convenor Prof. Leonor Magtolis Briones concurs with Raquiza and criticizes the country’s supposed rapid six to seven per cent Gross Domestic Product growth in recent years calling it a “non-inclusive and jobless” growth.
“Poverty incidence remains high in spite of this growth. Unemployment is still at 7.5 per cent and underemployment at 19.5 per cent,” said Briones.
While the Philippine Development Plan of the Aquino administration is correct in pointing out that its main task is to generate inclusive growth, this has not come into fruition halfway into Aquino’s term, Briones added.