Pangandaman: Targeted cash transfer remains part of proposed 2024 budget
MANILA, Philippines — Targeted cash transfers (TCT) or social aid would continue to be part of the 2024 budget, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman assured the public on Monday.
During the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) roundtable discussion with INQUIRER.net and Philippine Daily Inquirer reporters, Pangandaman identified the different cash assistance programs for 2023 that totaled around P650 billion.
She was then asked if cash assistance programs like the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) would still form part of the proposed 2024 budget that the executive would submit to the legislative branch later this year.
“Meron pa rin po (Yes it’s still there) but we are still working on the 2024 budget now, but I know that the programs like 4Ps, I think hindi po ‘yan mawawala (that won’t go away), it will be a continuous program. AICS will also be a continuous program; in fact, I know that there’s a pending legislation, it’s in the advanced stage now that they want to institutionalize the program, the AICS,” Pangandaman said.
“‘Yong medical assistance it will also continue po. Marami pa pong programa for social cash assistance (Medical assistance will also continue. We have many programs for social cash assistance),” she added.
According to Pangandaman, for the 2023 General Appropriations Act, the government still has P646.1 billion worth of funds, including the following programs:
- 4Ps (P102 billion)
- Protective Services (P36 billion)
- Fuel subsidy (Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation) (P3 billion)
- Service Contracting (P1.2 billion)
- Fuel discount for farmers (P510 million)
- Fuel assistance for fisherfolk (P500 million)
- Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program (P250 million)
“As of now po parang we just provided for the last two months of the TCT, that’s P7.6 billion as of now. Sa ating budget naman po, meron po tayong (For our budget, we have) existing support; in fact, in 2023, we have more or less P650 billion of similar programs,” Pangandaman said.
“So as of now when we discussed it during our DBCC (Development Budget Coordination Committee) with Sec. Ben (Diokno) and Neda (National Economic and Development Authority), I think we will just finish ‘yong provision po for the TCT which is P7.6 billion and the funds are already there, so hopefully po mapamigay po ng DSWD ‘yong funds, ‘yong money po sa beneficiaries (hopefully the DSWD can give the money to the beneficiaries),” she added.
On budget priorities, military pension
Pangandaman said that the 2024 budget would still focus on the same sectors given attention in the 2023 budget like infrastructure and agriculture, which actually got a huge boost under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first budget.
“We will continue the infrastructure program of the national government, from Build, Build, Build to Build Better More, from five to six percent of GDP, now this year is 5.8 percent. We’re still working on the 2024 (budget), we need to adhere with that,” she said.
“Support for agriculture, we all know that this year we increase it to about 40 percent kasi (because) for previous years po parang we didn’t give enough investment po, sobrang baba po lagi ‘yong sa support natin (we always had low support) for agriculture,” she added.
As to the military and other uniformed personnel (MUP) pension, the DBM chief admitted that a bill is needed to reform pension management.
Pangandaman said that the DBCC’s technical staffers have already consulted with the Department of National Defense (DND).
“We need a law, we need a legislation for that. As of now, nag-iikot po ang mga technical staff ng DBCC together po with the DND (their staff is going around), I think they already had three consultations with the military personnel, police, and our defense, so we’re working on a draft bill kasi wala pa po (since there isn’t any),” she said.
“Mayroong mga naka-file but I think hindi pa siya na-consult with them, so we will, iikutin po muna natin lahat ng mga stakeholders and then come up with a proper version of the bill,” she added.
(We have bills filed, but I think MUPs were not consulted, so we will consult with the stakeholders first and then develop a proper version of the bill.)
Last May 20, President Marcos warned that the MUP pension fund might be depleted in five to six years if the government does not find ways to make the pension self-sustaining.
Marcos made this remark after Finance Secretary Diokno said that the ballooning pensions might lead to a fiscal collapse of the said fund.
Among the uniformed agencies who receive pensions from the fund are:
- Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
- Philippine National Police
- Philippine Coast Guard
- Bureau of Jail Management and Penology
- Bureau of Corrections
Eventually, it was announced by Senator Jinggoy Estrada that AFP supported proposals to collect contributions from MUP — a welcome development after members of the defense and law enforcement cluster were lukewarm to contribute to the fund.
Currently, the MUP pension is part of the allocations for the annual budget.