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Poverty reduction: failed mission

/ 12:12 AM April 22, 2016

The Aquino administration’s revised “Philippine Development Plan: 2011-2016” targeted to reduce the country’s poverty incidence.

But based on data from the Internet, it has failed in this objective. The failure could be explained thus:

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  1. The Philippines has a democratic form of government but it is dominated by the elite—big businessmen and politicians. If not in government, they influence government appointments. And the foremost consideration of the appointees is the vested interests of their sponsors. Every new administration makes thousands of elite-backed appointments; this explains the lack of continuity in our national directions and policies, which weakens our institutions and makes them more vulnerable to patronage and corruption.
  1. Among developing countries—such as Kenya, Bangladesh, India, Ghana, Laos, Timor-Leste and the Philippines—where the ratio of public sector employment to total population (public sector employment rate) is less than 2 percent, the poverty incidence is more than 24 percent. Cambodia is an exception; while its public sector employment rate is only 1.4 percent, it has managed to significantly reduce its poverty incidence from 53 percent in 2004 to 17.7 percent in 2015, this despite having a very low corruption perception index (CPI) that ranged from 20 to 22 between 2012 and 2015. On the other hand, the Philippines whose public sector employment rate is 1.5 percent has reduced its poverty incidence from 26.5 percent in 2009 to only 24.2 percent in 2015 despite registering unprecedented improvement in the CPI (from 26 to 38 between 2009 and 2015).
  1. The gross domestic products (GDPs) of the Philippines and Cambodia are relatively higher than those of most Asian countries; their growth rates ranged from 7.1 percent and 7.4 percent in 2013 to 6 percent and 7 percent in 2015. But Cambodia gives more emphasis on developing its agriculture which contributes 27.6 percent to its GDP, as against the Philippine agriculture’s 10.7 percent in 2015. Cambodia’s small farmers, or those with less than two hectares per household, account for most of private sector activity. They are provided with technical assistance and training to better prepare them to adapt to climate change; water-use efficiency is enhanced to protect their livelihood and sustain food security. Hence, Cambodia has earned the reputation of being one of the world’s best performers when it comes to poverty reduction.

Given the above realities, the Filipino voters should elect a president and political leaders who have the charisma, guts, capability and sincerity to lead the nation in accelerating the development of agriculture to its maximum, sustainable productivity while keeping the current momentum in improving its CPI and GDP growth. Only then can our country achieve a real, significant reduction in poverty incidence.

—EDMUNDO ENDEREZ, [email protected]

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TAGS: Aquino administration, democracy, Elections 2016, employment, GDP, Growth, Poverty
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