MANILA, Sept 10 (Mabuhay) — The Philippines will not meet its initial target of reducing  poverty incidence to 14% by 2021 from 16.7% in 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Karl Kendrick Chua said Thursday.

Chua made the disclosure during the deliberations of the proposed P4.5 trillion budget for 2021.

“Before COVID-19, we are on track to meet the 14% target or lower. However, due to COVID-19, we had to make adjustments which are hopefully, temporary,” Chua said upon questioning by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian.

“Our estimate [for next year] is it can go slightly lower at 15.5% to slightly higher at P17.5%,” he said.

The poverty incidence rate, Chua said, is measured every three years.

“The profile of poverty now is…we have to distinguish urban poverty from rural poverty because the COVID-19 and the quarantine restrictions largely affected urban areas. We are fortunate that this was not the case in rural areas where their [source of] livelihood, agriculture, was not affected just as much,” he said.

Chua then cited that while the unemployment rate soared to 17% in April at the height of the enhanced community quarantine or the protocol that bans mass transport and non-essential work, it has since gone down to 10% in July when quarantine protocols began to ease.

“When the quarantine protocols were relaxed, the economic activity came back immediately,” Chua said.

“We hope that with the progress we are making, we can still be on track,” he added.

The Philippines has recorded 245,143 COVID-19 cases thus far. Of this number, 185,543 recovered while 3,986 died. The number of active cases is at 55,614.(MNS)

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