The House committee on poverty alleviation will push for the approval of several poverty reduction measures, including a bill that would lower the cost of medicines.
“With the support of the Speaker, we will work on the passage of the proposed laws recommended to the committee by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),” Rep. Mikee Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman, said on Wednesday.
“These measures are key to achieving the objectives of the eight-point socio-economic development agenda of the Marcos administration,” he said.
The NEDA submitted its proposals to the committee on Tuesday. They were part of a briefing conducted by NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon on the overall poverty situation in the country.
Aside from the proposed Drugs and Medicines Regulation Act, the recommended poverty alleviation measures are Rental Housing Subsidy Bill, National Land Use Act, Pandemic Resiliency Bill, Young Farmer and Fisherfolk Challenge Program, Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension, and institutionalization of the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation program.
Romero said these measures are now pending with his committee and other concerned House panels. He said NEDA also suggested the full reopening of the economy and the resumption of face-to-face classes in all schools throughout the country.
“We can adopt these suggestions provided that we continue to remain vigilant against Covid-19 by following the necessary health protocols, like wearing of a face mask, frequent hand washing and observing physical distance,” he said.
He said the resumption of economic activities across all sectors “will lead to the restoration and creation of employment opportunities and income for our people.”
According to the NEDA, the pandemic has resulted in loss of jobs, which in turn contributed to increased poverty incidence in the country.
Its data showed that the employment rate went down from 94.7% (of the labor force) in 2018 to 92.1% in 2021, while unemployment jumped from 5.3% to 7.9%.
Underemployment expanded from 16.4% to 17.5% during the same period.
The NEDA also recommended more programs that would provide or strengthen skills and knowledge, and more investments in research and development, and technology.