Palace on reducing poverty: Other states took 50 years

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2014 04:16 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2014 05:17 PM

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said high economic growth is not enough to dramatically reduce poverty, saying it would continue to be a challenge for the country in the next ten years, along with reducing unemployment.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the country should sustain high economic growth to help reduce poverty, pointing out that it took 30 to 50 years for countries like Indonesia, China, and Thailand to substantially bring down their poverty numbers.

"Poverty reduction and employment generation will continue to be the challenges for this country in the next decade because we are starting from a high level of poverty of low quality jobs. And I could not think of any more fundamental development goals than those two: get the quality job creation going for the next decade and use that to get the poverty reduced," Balisacan told reporters.

Saying that "economic growth is necessary but not sufficient for poverty reduction," Balisacan enumerated steps that government is taking to help the poor and generate jobs.

This includes assisting poor families through the conditional cash transfer program and attract private investments to generate employment by improving infrastructure, reducing the cost of business and addressing peace and order problems.

Government targets a 6.5-7.5% GDP growth rate in 2014; 7-8% in 2015; and 7.5-8.5% in 2016.

Balisacan said that the growth targets could be higher if not for the calamities that hit the country.

Government has identified the provinces that belong to Category 1, 2, and 3 respectively, which would be targeted for anti-poverty strategies.

Category 1 provinces include areas that have the most number of poor households where government intends to create more employment opportunities, upgrade skill sets of the poor with emphasis on "growth sectors" that include IT-BPM, tourism, manufacturing, and logistics.

Category 2 places include those that have a high proportion of poor households which have also been affected by natural calamities and armed conflict. Government plans to bring in social assistance programs and economic opportunities here while continuing "peace-building efforts."

Category 3 provinces include communities that are prone to multiple hazards. Government intends to make these disaster-resilient and diversify income opportunities for the people.