DSWD willing to cut cost of cash dole program for poorBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is amenable to cutting down the administrative costs of implementing the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, which is proposed to be budgeted at P44.5 billion in 2013.
Senator Franklin Drilon has proposed cutting the administrative costs, from the current 10 percent to 7 percent of the CCT, to cover more beneficiaries.
If approved, the estimated P4.45 billion administrative costs of the CCT in the 2013 budget would drop to P3.1 billion.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman has instructed officials in charge of the CCT program to start crunching numbers and work around Drilon’s proposal.
“The instruction of the secretary is to try to compute how to adjust and try to accommodate the recommendation,” said Rodora Babaran, director of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), in a phone interview from Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
According to Babaran, the Drilon proposal became part of the agenda of the three-day midyear CCT program review and evaluation workshop, involving regional managers and program coordinators in 17 regions, which kicked off Tuesday in Laoag.
She said a part of the implementation process would be farmed out to the DSWD’s partner-organizations in the ground to offset the reduced administrative or implementation costs, but could not give specifics pending the conclusion of the workshop.
Babaran said, however, that reducing the number of people implementing the program was not an option because this would “compromise the program.”
“We won’t sacrifice the quality of the program. We need competent people to monitor the program,” she said.
She agreed with Drilon’s contention that the implementation cost of the program in some Latin American countries was pegged at 7 percent, but argued that implementing the program in an archipelagic country like the Philippines was “more challenging.”
The CCT program was initiated by the previous Arroyo administration. The Aquino administration decided to continue it, making it the centerpiece of its antipoverty program. The program has been much criticized for supposedly promoting a “doleout” mentality among the poor.
Patterned after similar programs in Latin America, the CCT provides direct education and health subsidies to the poorest households, subject to certain conditions such as a high level of class attendance among child beneficiaries and regular prenatal checkups among mothers.
The proposed increase in the 2013 CCT budget to P44.5 billion, from the current P39 billion, will reportedly cover an additional 700,000 beneficiaries.