MANILA - At least 19.99 million Filipinos were considered poor in 2021 as the poverty incidence rose to 18.1 percent, the state statistics bureau said Monday.
Being poor means the number of Filipinos whose per capita income is insufficient to meet basic food and non-food needs.
The number is higher than the 16.7 percent poverty incidence in the last survey held in 2018, which was equivalent to 17.7 million poor Filipinos, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in the briefing.
In 2021, the National Capital Region posted the lowest poverty incidence while the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao registered the highest poverty incidence, data showed.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said 2021's data means the government failed to achieve the previous administration's goal of bringing down the poverty rate to 15.5 percent to 17.5 percent in 2021.
The increase in poverty incidence last year reflects the impact of mobility restrictions on wages and jobs, he said.
“The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, including income and employment losses caused the poverty incidence to rise,” Balisacan said.
In terms of family poverty incidence, the rate increased to 13.2 percent in 2021 or equivalent to 3.5 million families, compared to 12.1 percent in 2018 or 3 million families, data showed.
Meanwhile, the poverty threshold, or the amount needed for a family of 5 to afford basic needs rose to P12,030 in 2021 from P10,756 in 2018. This number is used to measure the poverty rate.
Inflation, which accelerated to 6.4 percent in July is likely to worsen the poverty incidence, National Statistician Dennis Mapa said.
"Inflation as we’ve seen, it will actually increase the poverty threshold. By the way, the next round the family income expenditure survey will be done next year, so we will have a 2023 report," he said.
But Balisacan said the level could have improved in 2022 due to the reopening of the economy.
President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos' economic goals include reducing the poverty incidence to single digits by the end of his term. His 8-point economic agenda includes job generation and poverty reduction.
Balisacan said the goal is to reduce the poverty rate to 9 percent by 2028. This can be achieved by reopening the economy, generating jobs and investment in human capital, social development and social protection, he added.
Transforming the production sector and reopening face-to-face classes could also help spur economic growth and reduce poverty.
"We do know that we have a tough road ahead, but we are already prepared to face these challenges head-on," he said.
-- With a report from Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News