Coronavirus impact in poverty may be 'transitory,' says economic planning chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2020 10:54 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2020 10:55 AM

Volunteers transport food aid in Barangay Batis in San Juan City on March 23, 2020. The Philippines main island of Luzon, home to half of its 100 million people, is on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Philippines hopes that the coronavirus pandemic would have a "transitory" impact on poverty numbers, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said Tuesday.

Should the crisis not drag until the end of the year, the government can still meet its goal of bringing down poverty incidence to 14 percent by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term in 2022.

"Fourteen percent by 2022 is still achievable given the swift reduction from 2015 to 2018," Pernia said. Poverty incidence refers to the percentage of the population living below the poverty line.

A billion-peso COVID-19 stimulus package is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature. It includes P5,000 to P8,000 monthly for 2 months for poor families, among others.

Economists and analysts have stressed the need for social protection as work stoppages threaten to sink more people into poverty.

Pernia earlier said the economy could contract, by as much as 0.6 percent should the crisis persist until June. The lockdown in Luzon, which accounts for three-quarters of the economy, is scheduled to end on April 12.