Friday, January 21, 2005

Poverty to remain a serious problem in the Philippines: economists

MANILA : Poverty in the Philippines will remain a problem for years and government proposals to halve it by 2010 remain "unfeasible", according to economists. Former socioeconomic planning secretary and University of the Philippines (UP) economist Felipe Medalla was quoted in BusinessWorld newspaper as saying the government's failure to prioritize expenditures, given the little money it has, adds to the "improbability of resolving the poverty problem".

"Poverty will remain a serious problem in the Philippines for quite some time," Medalla said. "To begin with, it doesn't seem the government will be able to achieve its growth targets and it doesn't seem that it will be able to resolve its fiscal deficit." In 2003 government debt totalled 78 percent of gross domestic product while public sector debt stood at 138 percent of GDP. According to the World Bank some 51 percent of the country's 84 million people live on less than two dollars a day.

In a report on population and poverty published by the UP School of Economics last December it said that while countries like Thailand and Indonesia have managed to bring their population growth down over the past 30 years, the Philippines has not. It has been estimated that with the current rate of population growth of 2.3 percent the Philippine population could double within the next 30 years.

Channel NewsAsia