The provincial government has embarked on an ambitious target to reduce poverty incidence in Palawan, officially placed at 56 percent of the population based on Capitol’s own surveys, to 25 percent by end of 2022.

The plan has been reflected in Palawan’s P3.6 billion 2021 budget recently passed by the Provincial Board, which had increased by 20 percent from the previous year’s allocation.

This year’s budget has an allocation of P630 M for the development projects, P181 M for the local disaster risk reduction management fund, P367,000 or P1,000 per barangay under the financial assistance to barangay, P1.2 B for the programs, activities, and project, P43 M for capital outlay, P367 M for the MOOE, and P1 B for personal services.

“Socio-economic programs and projects and provincial government spending remain mostly in line with PGP’s development vision and goals but much needs to be done as challenges still abound particularly the challenge of reducing poverty specially now with the unprecedented crisis brought about by COVID-19 pandemic,” the 2021 budget message stated.

“Poverty remains the biggest single challenge facing the province. Based on IP profiling conducted by PPDO, there are more or less 120,000 households in the province perceived to be vulnerable. Unemployment rates are high in certain municipalities of the province such as Cuyo, Balabac, Narra, Bataraza, Araceli, Quezon, Busuanga, Sofronio Espanola, Roxas and Linapacan with it reaching its highest levels in rural communities,” it added.

The budget seeks to fund the strengthening of health services, including the province’s COVID-19 response, and will prioritize support to medical health facilities, services and medicines.

It also seeks to support small, micro, and grassroots social enterprise and the promotion of social cohesion and community resiliency.

Also to receive funding are interventions to promote tourism and cultural sites, provide quality nutrition and health care, downloading of information for better farming practices for the farmers and fishermen, equitable access to technical and vocational education, and other programs that would respond to the educational needs of the Palaweños.