By Cecilia Yap and Ditas Lopez
Philippines — Nearly 6 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty, the Philippine statistics agency said, as the government boosts spending on social welfare.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said 16.6% of the population - about 17.6 million Filipinos - were poor in 2018. That compared with the 23.3% poverty incidence in 2015, equivalent to about 23.5 million people, according to a report released on Friday.
The poverty threshold was estimated at 10,727 pesos ($211) a month for a family of five, the agency said in the report based on a survey conducted every three years.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in 2016, has increased spending on education and health, while boosting infrastructure to create more jobs. The Philippine economy is among the fastest growing this decade, expanding at about 6% a year.
The income gap, which measures the average amount the poor must earn to get out of poverty, was about 2,338 pesos in 2018, the statistics agency said.
Poverty incidence was highest in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the south at 53.6% and lowest in Metro Manila at 1.5%.
The Southeast Asian nation targets to cut poverty incidence to 14% by 2022.
The World Bank and the Philippines in November signed a loan agreement providing additional $300m financing for southeast Asian nation’s social welfare development and reform program.
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