QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) maintained that the P10,000 monthly budget it presented on June 5 was only to set an example on how the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law affects an average Filipino family.
In fact, NEDA Undersecretary Rose Edillon said she herself is not convinced that such amount is sufficient for an average family’s monthly sustenance.
“Iyong ibinigay namin na mga figure na iyon, actually, that’s based on a survey. Pero ito iyong tinatawag natin na weight ng consumer basket so iyon ang average,” Edillon explained.
In a presentation on Tuesday, June 5, NEDA provided a sample breakdown of the P10,000 monthly income of an average Filipino household which is likely to spend P3,834 pesos for food; around P6,000 for non-food items such as clothing and utility payments; P1,300 for rent and P158 for simple vices. Aside form these items, an average family also spend money for health, transportation and communication needs.
Edillon explained that given the rise in the inflation rate, P10,000 will definitely not be enough.
“Kung ang budget mo ay P10,000 in a month, matamaan ka ng 4.6 na inflation rate, ibig sabihin nito may dagdag actually na P459 para sa gastusin,” she added.
But for Ibon Foundation, a staunch critic of the agency, a Filipino family should be receiving a budget that is thrice NEDA’s average amount of P10,000 to be able to live conveniently. Specifically, according to the research group, a family of five should be receiving P35,000 a month or what it calls as “family living wage.”
“Mismong ang National Wages and Productivity Commission din naman ang naglabas in the early 1990’s na sa ngayon ang kanyang halaga ay P1,173/ day for a family of five so that would be around P35,000 a month,” said Ibon’s Executive Editor Rosario Bella Guzman.
Meanwhile, labor group ALU-TUCP calls on NEDA to be cautious in making such sensitive statement because it could affect the outcome of their petition for a wage increase.
“Kailangan din natin sigurong batikusin ito at kuwestyunin. Baka kasi ito ay mensahe ng NEDA para sa gobyerno at mensahe ng NEDA para sa wage board na huwag magbigay ng significant wage increase,” argued Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of ALU-TUCP.
The group has an existing petition seeking for the implementation of an P800 national minimum wage to the increasing prices of basic commodities. – Rey Pelayo / Marje Pelayo