‘Family of 4 needs P120K monthly’

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Most Filipinos aspire for a “simple and comfortable life” in which they can afford to buy a car and a medium-sized house, send their children to college, regularly spend leisure time with family and friends and take occasional trips around the country.

But this may not be so simple after all, as a family of four must have a gross monthly income of at least P120,000 at 2015 prices to afford things that they believe can make life easier for their families, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Expounding on the results of its Ambisyon Natin 2040 survey which had its soft launch in March, NEDA director general Emmanuel Esguerra said the lifestyle aspired for by most Filipinos (79 percent of survey respondents) is actually that of a middle class living standard centered on the family.

“In speaking about these aspirations in life, words like ‘magulang,’ ‘anak’ and ‘pamilya’ were often used. At first, we thought we were just getting modest aspiration goals but these are actually middle class aspirations,” said the NEDA chief during the Ambisyon Natin 2040 Media Forum with the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP).

The income level of at least P120,000 was arrived at factoring in the amortizations that would have to be made for a car, a house and lot, as well as taxes that would have to be paid and allowances for emergency needs and exigencies.

The respondents further defined a “simple and comfortable life” as one “free from worry and hardships” with their families.

The Ambisyon Natin 2040 survey is not a national economic plan tied to an economic growth strategy. Rather, it was meant to determine the medium-term and short-term aspirations of Filipinos regarding standard of living, finances, security and ease of transacting with the government within a generation’s time.

The survey, initiated last year and completed in February, utilized face-to-face interviews with 10,000 persons across all economic classes. The respondents were between 15 and 50 years old.

Respondents were picked from both urban and rural areas nationwide, except in high-risk areas such as Abra, Sulu and Basilan as well as in provinces with small population such as Apayao, Batanes, Siquijor, Camiguin and Dinagat Islands.

“Ambisyon Natin 2040 is not a plan. It is a vision around which we hope our people can unite,” said Esguerra, noting that NEDA has been communicating this vision with various civil society groups and government organizations.

NEDA deputy director general Rosemarie Edillon said most Filipinos fail to attain this kind of lifestyle partly because many are trapped in the cycle of poverty as parents have failed to secure a comfortable retirement, thus burdening their children, who themselves fail to secure their own future.

Such a cycle, she said, leads to missed demographic dividend.

As such, she said it is important for Filipinos to be financially literate and for women to have increased participation in the labor force.

She said that with the right policies for economic and human development, the Philippines can be an advanced income economy by 2040, comparable to Malaysia which has a per capita income of $11,000. Greater attention, she said, should be given to programs in housing, connectivity, education, health and countryside development.

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