Joker Arroyo: Cut $1-B loan not CCT costsBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A party mate of President Benigno Aquino III has questioned a major component of the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, but one of the Chief Executive’s fiercest critics said the ally should be questioning something else instead.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, vice chair of the Liberal Party, wants to reduce the “administrative costs” to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) of the administration’s centerpiece program next year.
Sought for comment, Sen. Joker Arroyo said he was wondering why Drilon was examining the CCT program—which is intended to help the “poorest of the poor”—when he should be scrutinizing the government’s $1-billion loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Drilon noted that the administrative costs would represent 10.3 percent of the estimated P45 billion allocation for the CCT the DSWD is requesting in the proposed 2013 national budget. He said he was looking to reduce administrative costs to about “7 percent” of the total CCT budget.
“As I expected, the administrative costs can stand some scrutiny, but we will not reduce the budget,” he told reporters. “We will put a little of the excessive administrative cost into the grants so there will be more beneficiaries covered.”
Arroyo said the IMF loan amount was almost as much the proposed CCT budget for next year.
“The IMF contribution is for goodwill, it is said. In short, for show that we are grateful. No questions asked. The CCT program is for the poorest of the poor. But many questions asked. Is it fair?” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
“The $1-billion contribution of the Philippines to the IMF cannot be taken lightly nor can it be just brushed aside. It has to be taken seriously. For one thing, no one knew about it until it was announced, so there goes the issue of transparency,” he said.
Asserting that the loan was not “peanuts,” Arroyo said the government should be asked for instance “under what authority” it would be released.
“Elementary is the rule that any government expenditure must have the corresponding authority to disburse. That has to be explained. It has also to show a funding source,” he said.
Drilon earlier explained that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas was authorized by law to extend a loan to the IMF. The money, which would earn interest, would come from the country’s foreign reserves.
In a presentation to the congressional oversight committee, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman reported that the CCT program now covered 3,014,586 families in 138 cities and 1,496 towns throughout the country.
Of the CCT’s current budget of P39.4 billion, the grants amounted to P35.4 billion while operational costs were P3.9 billion.
“The program only supports the immediate effects of poverty,” Soliman told the committee. “There should be a support program, like a community livelihood project where the beneficiaries can learn to earn a living and have an independent source of income.”
Tags: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas , CCT Program , conditional cash transfer , Department of Social Welfare and Development , DSWD , IMF , International Monetary Fund , Sen. Franklin Drilon , Senator Joker Arroyo