(DP 1979-07) Why Are We Reluctant to Set Numerical Equity Targets? (Comments on the 1978-1982 Five-Year Development Plan)

Mahar K. Mangahas


The new 1978-1982 Development Plan asserts the 'the conquest of mass poverty' is the immediate and fundamental goal. Yet, although construction of numerical targets is a basic element of development planning, the 1978-1982 Plan continues the tradition of technical overconcentration on economic growth, and is very deficient in the area of equity. It does have targets for the reduction of open unemployment, visible underemployment, under- nutrition, and infant mortality, and for the increase of life expectancy, literacy, schooling participation, housing and social services. But the targets cannot be regarded as very aggressive (with the notable exception of the nutrition plan). What is keeping NEDA from going to the heart of the matter, and from making numerical targets for reduction in the incidence of poverty and in income inequality, and for increases in real wages? There are no serious technical obstacles to this. Naturally, it would have to officially adopt a poverty line and an index of inequality -- at this point, it is more important to decide on some mode of measurements than to argue on what the best mode should be. Given that targets are set, to be met within a 5-year planning period, and subjected to a mid-term review, it also follows that there should be an annual monitoring system for poverty and other equity-variables, just as there is for the GNP. Technicians should be conscious that neglect of numerical targeting and frequent monitoring is a subtle way of supporting the status quo.

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