10 October 2006

Income per capita: Bicol poverty series (3)

NOTE: Today, I will present the 3rd and 4th installment of a six-part series analyzing results of the data on local poverty released recently by the NSCB and their relevance to local governments in Bicol region.

Incidentally, the Philippines marks today the 15th anniversary of the Local Government Code of 1991.

TABLE 3 introduces the concept of
income per capita – the ratio of the local government income to its total population – thereby bringing in a governance dimension into the picture. Data on local government income are for 2002, the earliest available from the COA website and therefore closest to the base year of the NCSB study.

Immediately, the disparity between the incomes per capita of provinces and cities stands out, with only Catanduanes achieving four-digit figures among the former. On the other hand, Masbate City has the highest income per capita at around P2,410 per resident, six times more than Camarines Sur, which has the lowest at a little over P400. Population again proves to be a key variable; in addition to Camarines Sur, Albay also has the second lowest income per capita at around P470.

This begs an important question:
If cities are actually financially better off than provinces using this measure, is it not logical for provincial governments to focus their resources in equalizing opportunities for and in behalf of its component low-income municipalities? It makes eminent sense for provincial governments to do so. After all, Section 459 of the Local Government Code of 1991 defines the role of the province, to wit:

The province...serves as a dynamic mechanism for developmental processes and effective governance of local government units within its territorial jurisdiction. (Underscoring supplied)
With this in mind, a closer look at the table will reveal the problem of double-counting, arising from the inclusion of city households in the provincial poverty count when these have already been considered in computing city indicators. This issue is addressed in Table 4.