Philippines: Government economic managers slammed for P10,000 family budget per month statement

Senator says possible to survive with P10 a month ‘as long as we all stop breathing’

Manila: Senators and a labour group have criticised government economic officials for saying that an average Filipino family of five can live decently on a budget of P10,000 (Dh699) each month.

“Only an economist who has been living under a rock will believe that a family of five can live decently on P334 (Dh23.28),” Senator Grace Poe said.

During a press briefing last June 5 on the May 2018 inflation report, Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) used a hypothetical monthly budget of P10,000 in illustrating how it will be affected by the 4.6-per cent inflation rate recorded last month.

Poe said the amount that Filipino family needs to eat every day had been cruelly downplayed.

“The ‘hypothetical’ P10,000 per month income for a family of five given by NEDA is fake news. It is a throwback estimate, meaning it was possible to survive on that amount 15 years ago, before the age of Facebook,” she said.

“That amount will perhaps be enough if the family will go on a forced diet, live off the grid in a lean-to, forego schooling, among other deprivations,” she added.

For his part, Representative Carlos Zarate of the Bayan Muna (Nation First) partylist said the NEDA, which is in charge of crafting the country’s economic agenda, was “shamelessly out of touch with reality.”

“Why don’t their families try living on a P10,000 budget?. Have they tried this?,” Zarate said.

On Wednesday, Senator Panfilo Lacson sarcastically said a family can indeed live on P10,000, but they have to make a lot of other sacrifices.

“Actually, we can, but only if my family will eat only once a day, won’t brush our teeth nor take a bath, walk every day to and from our place of work but avoid perspiring so we won’t wash our clothes,” Lacson said.

“And yes, ask my wife to stop watching her favourite telenovela because I will sell the TV set. Ask my children to throw away their mobile phones. Actually, we can survive with P10 a month as long as we all stop breathing,” he added.

According to NEDA, a 4.6-per cent inflation would affect specific commodities such as food and fuel.

The agency added that government is taking steps to shield Filipinos from the full impact of an inflation in the succeeding month.

Filipinos had been complaining that rising cost of goods had been affecting their monthly budget, prompting most of them, especially those living in the poverty threshold, to forego small luxuries.

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