First of all, I suspect that the Philippine Statistics Authority, PSA, is like many government organizations across the planet. Crammed with bureaucratic pencil pushers. Out of touch with reality. Too busy checking their latest Facebook post or text messages on their smart phones.
PSA’s Wretched Family Budget Estimate
The Manila Standard reported on the PSA’s estimated minimum P10,481 budget needed by a family of five to survive in a month. That’s about 210 US dollars. Maybe the key word here is “survive.”
Our March 2019 budget for a family of five? 58,491 Philippine pesos, 1,170 US dollars. That’s more than five times the PSA estimate. Above all, we don’t have any house or car payments that inflate our budget. However, we do have eight dogs to feed.
The PSA P10, 481 estimate was broken down into P7,337 for basic food needs, 147 US dollars. PSA Assistant Secretary Josie Perez said the P10,481 could enable a family of five to afford “nutritious foods.”
The “nutritious” food items recommendation came from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
The food bundle included meals with egg, coffee or milk, rice and fruit for breakfast. Mongo beans, fish, rice and fruit for lunch. Fish, pork, vegetables, fruit, rice and snacks like bread for dinner.
The PSA budget revealed that P3,144, $63, would cover basic non-food needs like shelter, clothing, utilities, transportation, and communication.
Labor Groups Slam PSA Budget
Consequently, two labor groups quickly slammed the PSA budget. The labor alliances stated the amount was anti-poor in a modern and modernizing economy. They added that the threshold implied malnourished Filipinos and a miserable standard of living.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Partido Manggagawa said business groups and the government would use the PSA figures to avoid raising the salaries of ordinary workers.
“If we are going to this standard basis for our public and private policy to uplift our people from poverty, it would appear there is no sense of urgency in this poverty threshold standard amount set by the PSA,” TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said.
“There’s no prospect of hope for the millions of poor Filipinos.”
Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro also criticized the Duterte administration for “giving a low priority to pay increases.”
“We believe that setting such an incredibly low food threshold―so out of touch from the realities that Filipino families face especially those in the rural areas―is intended to deny the demand for urgent and substantial salary and wage increases” Tinio said.
Perez said she was aware that the P10,481 could be considered in assessing the minimum wages in the country. However, she noted that wage boards had their own method of computation.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes criticized the PSA over its estimate and described it as unrealistic.
Above all, I’d have to agree.