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The weakening tiger: Taiwan

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By Fang Chih-Yung

Between early 1960s and the 1990s, together with other Asian Tigers, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, Taiwan continuously achieved high annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth, experienced fast industrialization and graduated from being a Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) into an advanced and high-income economy.[1] Taiwan’s development experience was hailed as “Taiwan Miracle.”

One of the major characteristics that made Taiwan exceptional was its ability to achieve high GDP growth and income growth, while maintaining relatively narrow disparities in income distribution. Taiwan’s Gini coefficient had decreased from 0.321 in 1964 to 0.277 in 1980. But since 1981, the number had slowly climbed up, reaching 0.317 in 1995.[2] The difference in disposable income between the top and bottom 20 percent households was less than five times during the 1970s and 1980s.[3]

Despite this history of economic growth, Taiwan is now facing rising poverty and widening income disparities.

The Conditional Cash Transfer Debate and the Coalition against the Poor

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By Walden Bello*

Conditional Cash Transfers or CCTs have become the subject of controversy recently, with a marathon debate on it breaking out over it during the budget deliberations at the House of Representatives.  The CCT program was introduced in 2008, during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.  During the recent budget hearings, however, Arroyo, now the representative of the Second District of Pampanga, opposed the expansion of the program planned by the new administration.

The idea behind CCT’s is that poor families are given a subsidy if they agree to certain conditions: keep their children in school, receive health care during and after pregnancy, and agree to have children immunized, subjected to periodic checkups, and monitored for growth.  The aim is to “increase the productivity of the poor,” make children more competitive in the job market when they grow up, and thus “break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.”

Social Watch Philippines Position Paper on the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)*

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The Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) was launched in late 2007, as the Philippine government’s version of the conditional cash transfer. In exchange for the provision of cash grants for education and health activities, poor families need to comply with a set of conditionalities such as ensuring school attendance of children, regular visits to health centers for immunization, preventive health check-ups and maternal care. The program runs for five years for household-beneficiaries.

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On November 10, Focus on the Global South interviewed Secretary Joel Rocamora of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) in his Quezon City office. The interview was done in the context of wanting to hear from the anti-poverty point person himself, amid criticisms hurled against the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), what opportunities the marginalized sectors have under the P-Noy government and what kind of anti-poverty strategies the new government will set into  motion. It was a candid and insightful interview at best.

FOI and the Marginalized: When Information is a Matter of Life and Survival

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By Clarissa V. Militante

For a community of indigenous people in Mindanao that’s left in the dark on whether its ancestral land will soon be up for grabs for a mining or dam project, access to information is not merely a matter of news making.  For farmers who want to know if the lands they till and lease would be part of government’s agrarian reform or would the landowners be favored by the courts, information is not a matter of input in a research report.  For them who belong to the marginalized sectors, access to information is a matter of life and survival.

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