NEDA: Comfort of living not assessed in PSA food poverty threshold

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 19) — The Philippine Statistics Authority's (PSA) food poverty threshold of ₱8,379 per month does not evaluate a family's comfort in living within this budget, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Friday.

"Wala po kaming ginagawang judgment as to komportable na ba 'yung nagiging buhay. Sa pagkakataya po ng ating nutritionists, ito po 'yung amount you need so that you are able meet po 'yung basic requirements," said NEDA Usec. Rosemarie Edillon, noting these refer to the recommended daily allowance for energy and micronutrients.

[Translation: We don't make judgement as to whether their lives are already comfortable. According to our nutritionists, this is the amount you need so that you are able to meet the basic requirements.]

The PSA, an attached agency of NEDA, said in its 2021 poverty statistics report that a family of five needs the said amount each month to meet their minimum basic food requirements.

READ: Nearly 20M poor Filipinos in 2021 as COVID-19 drives up poverty rate to 18.1%

There were around 1.04 million food-poor families last year — up from 840,000 in 2018 where the threshold was at ₱7,553.

Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto recently criticized the 2021 food poverty threshold, noting it implies a five-member household only needs ₱279 per day for three meals. Divide this and you get ₱93 per meal for five individuals, he said.

"Even if that amount would be adjusted for inflation, in this era of ₱400-a-kilo onions, I don't think that ₱93 would be enough for one family super tipid meal. Is it possible then that real hunger and poverty rates were higher than what were officially captured?" said Recto, a former NEDA chief.

The PSA reported a poverty rate of 18.1% in 2021, higher than 16.7% three years prior.

The government eyes bringing down the figure to 9% by 2028.