‘Bigger 4Ps budget up to Congress’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will fully support Congress if it decides to increase allocation for the conditional cash transfer program, noting that the power to do so is within its purview.
At the plenary debates on Friday for the department’s proposed funding for 2024, DSWD budget sponsor and Negros Oriental 1st District Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong said the DSWD is amenable to increasing funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program.
Limkaichong said this after Agri party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee asked whether the agency agrees with proposals for a higher 4Ps cash grant per family.
“The power of the purse is with Congress, honestly we really want that to happen, the agency already concurred to that proposal and the council is okay, so it is up to us (House) if we want to increase it by putting special provision to allow the increase or the additional augmentation through a special provision to be taken from the unprogrammed funds,” she explained.
Realigning items in the proposed budget is within the powers of Congress, and they do it by transferring some of the allocations in an agency to another department or office.
It is allowed, during the period of amendments, as long as the House will not increase or decrease the total proposed appropriations, which amounts to P5.768 trillion for 2024.
Under the National Expenditures Program (NEP) or the proposed 2024 budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management, the 4Ps program got a P112.84 billion funding, which is 10 percent higher than what was allocated in 2023.
Lee, however, noted that as early as June, even state-owned Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) had backed an increase in the cash grants provided for each family.
“It was discussed during the National Advisory Council (NAC) the recommendation of [PIDS] regarding the increase of cash grants, I asked this because last May 29, 2023 the PIDS report revealed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because of the inflation the P31,200 maximum amount that a 4Ps household can receive in a year had been reduced in value, to only P14,524,” Lee said in English and Filipino.
“What is the recommended action of the DSWD as lead agency of the NAC. Did you propose this to the DBM (Department of Budget and Management)? May this representation know why the recommended increase was not included in the 2024 Budget proposal of the DSWD,” he added.
In response, Limkaichong said that the committee approved the proposal and DSWD has no problem with that, given that the cost of living has drastically increased after the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it was not included in the proposed budget because the NEP was finished by that time. Limkaichong then suggested that Congress make amendments to the NEP, increase the allocation to the 4Ps through a special provision.
“When this discussion was being done the NEP had been formulated already,” Limkaichong said.