MANILA— In a bid to accelerate poverty reduction and promote growth in areas where the poor are found, the NEDA Social Development Committee – Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster (SDC-HDPRC) embarked on a concerted effort among the government, private sector, and the poor to ensure that the factors limiting the poor’s participation in economic growth are addressed at the provincial level.

“The challenge that remains is that there are still many Filipinos who are poor. Simply waiting on growth to trickle down to the poor would amount to social injustice. Hence, we need to be more precise in our interventions, even our interventions to promote economic growth to ensure that it will be inclusive,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, during his opening speech at the Salubungan held on April 30, 2015 in Cebu City.

“This time, we will do it differently. We, the government, will ensure that the attainment of this goal is through the substantial engagement and strong partnership with the private sector and the poor themselves,” he added.

The Salubungan is a series of activities under the government’s Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) that is being conducted in nine more pilot provinces, namely Pangasinan, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, and Sulu.

The ASAPP aims to significantly and sustainably reduce poverty incidence among the population to 18-20 percent in 2016 by creating income opportunities for and enhancing the employability of the poor. It is being piloted in selected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces classified as Category 1 in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. It is in these provinces where the number of poor families is highest.

Salubungan is a public-private partnership model of the ASAPP that aims to tap the skills and resources of the poor in enabling private enterprises to expand their production capacities and markets. It gathers together regional government agencies, local government units, the private sector, and representatives from select poor cities and municipalities to discuss factors that inhibit local private enterprises from increasing their linkages with the poor.

Then, solutions involving government policies and programs to link the poor with these enterprises are identified. These may include skill enhancement to increase the poor’s employability in businesses with growth potentials. They may also include trade facilitation and market linkages such that the poor get to supply the raw materials, inputs and services needed by bigger businesses.

“We will try to address gaps with government intervention and support from the private sector to create massive employment so that those currently considered below the poverty threshold can be included in the growth process,” said NEDA Deputy Director-General Margarita R. Songco, in a separate Salubungan held on April 21, 2015 in Iloilo City.

“We don’t need grand projects. What we need are doable targets for the private sector, and enabling environment and commitment from the government to encourage businesses to hire the vulnerable and source inputs from them,” she added.

The other ASAPP model involves employing the poor in government programs and projects, such as in public works, shelter and facilities improvement, as well as education, health and nutrition, and ecological management programs.

“In planning and implementing the ASAPP, we should always remember that if the poor are able to participate and not only benefit from the growth process, then the growth is inclusive,” said Assistant Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon.

In the Iloilo workshop, the private sector, represented by medium scale and social enterprises in hotel, resort, restaurant, food processing, construction, and agri-business industries, identified the skills they require for their operations and expressed their willingness to hire individuals from the target communities.

The pilot municipalities also have potential to supply raw materials such as bamboo, poultry and livestock, seafood, spices, and vegetables.

The NEDA is the convener of the ASAPP Action Team of Iloilo and Cebu, composed by the members of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster and selected members of the Economic Development Cluster. A series of consultations and follow-up activities will follow to ensure the sustainability of the ASAPP.