New poverty methodology reduces number of poor by 5.3 million-Ibon

RESEARCH group IBON questions the new methodology of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), saying that it significantly reduces the number of poor Filipinos by some 5.3 million.

The approved revisions reflected in the NSCB’s methodology for estimating poverty places the number of poor Filipinos to just 23.1 million in 2009. If the original methodology was consistently used, the number of poor should have been 28.5 million in 2009, which means that the new methodology effectively reduces the number of poor by 5.3 million without really improving the poverty situation. It would also show that the number of poor Filipinos increased by 850,000 from 2006 to 2009.

The NSCB has done this by pegging the official poverty threshold, or the amount supposedly necessary for a tolerable standard of living, at just PhP46 per person per day instead of PhP52 per person per day if the old methodology was used.

This implies that a Filipino on average needs just PhP46 a day to meet all of his or her food and non-food needs. Basic needs include food, education, clothing and footwear, medical care, transportation and communication, fuel, light and water, housing, housing maintenance, furnishings, household operations, personal care and effects, and rental.

It must be stressed that the old methodology estimate of 28.5 million poor Filipinos in 2009 is still a likely low estimate because it assumes that a Filipino needs just P52 per day to stay out of poverty.

According to IBON, improvements to scientific methodologies are welcome but the new methodology seems unresponsive and detached to everyday realities. The group added that it is better to err on the side of conservatism rather than paint an overly optimistic picture especially in the case of the Philippines which has seen rapid growth amid rising joblessness and low incomes.


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