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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Households need P343 per day at least

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

A Filipino household of five in Metro Manila needs an additional P35 a day this year to meet the daily food requirements, or the food threshold, set by the government.

A household needed only P162 a day in 2006.

To stay above the poverty line, the same household will have to make P343 a day, from P282 a day in 2006.

The government releases reports on the food threshold and poverty threshold every three years.

The National Statistical Coordination Board estimated that the food threshold for a family of five in Metro Manila rose by 22 percent to P197 a day this year, from P162 a day in 2006. In 2003, the food threshold was P137 and in 2000, P131.

The food menu for Metro Manila includes tomato omelet, fried rice, coffee for adults and milk for children for breakfast; fried fish (galunggong) , munggo guisado (sauteed mung beans) with small shrimps and malunggay leaves, boiled rice and latundan (a variety of banana) for lunch; pork adobo, pechay guisado (sauteed pechay) and boiled rice for supper; and pan de sal (poor man’s bread) with margarine for snacks.

Romulo Virola, secretary-general of the statistical board, attributed the increase in food threshold this year to higher food and oil prices.

Virola, however, added that the P197 food threshold a day is not enough to feed a family of five, which consists three children and two parents.

“It’s not enough, it should be higher, considering that prices of food and oil continue to increase,” he added.

In April, the country’s inflation rate rose 8.3 percent, from 6.4 percent in March, owing to higher food prices. This was the highest inflation rate since May 2005 at 8.5 percent. A year ago, it was 2.3 percent.

Also in April, the government approved an increase in minimum fare for public utility jeepneys to P8, from P7.50, and that for ordinary buses to P9, from P8. For air-conditioned buses, the minimum fare was raised to P11.50, from P10.

In Metro Manila, the country’s premier region, the daily minimum wage is set to increase by P20, to P382 this month.

Economists earlier said the additional P20 hike in the daily minimum wage is not enough to improve the buying power of Filipino consumers, particularly in Metro Manila, that has shrunk over the years because of surging prices.

The peso purchasing power fell six centavos to P0.65 in April this year from P0.71 in the same period last year, based on a computation by The Manila Times using data from the National Statistics Office.

In Metro Manila, the consumers’ buying power dropped by five centavos to P0.65 in April from P0.70 in the same period last year. This drop placed at P249.30 the real value of the P382 daily minimum wage.

For consumers living outside Metro Manila, the value of their peso is P0.60 in April, lower by 12 centavos from P0.72 in the same period last year.

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