Cash dole to poor to last until 2015
The controversial multibillion conditional cash transfer (CCT), or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), will be over in 2015.
According to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the cash subsidy program for poor families, which was increased to P39 billion in 2012, from the P21 billion in 2011, was “not endless” and that an exit program was already being finalized.
He said the government was hoping that more new jobs would be created in the industries that it is nurturing by the time the CCT is phased out in 2015.
Abad said the program’s coverage has been increased to three million households, and that subsidies would now be given outright instead of by installment.
The budget secretary said the CCT budget increase was not made at the expense of other government services.
He said that basic education had an increase of P278 billion while P12 billion will be spent to cover 5.2 million indigent Filipinos under the national health insurance program.
House leaders on Tuesday declared the P39 billion allocation for the CCT as virtually untouchable because this was considered a flagship program of President Aquino.
Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, chair of the appropriations committee, said the majority would likely defend to keep the CCT program’s budget, along with the P101 billion Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) and the P22.1 billion counterpart funds for private-public partnership (PPP) projects in the nearly P1.8 trillion budget for 2012.
Abaya said lawmakers wishing to raise allocations for other items such as livelihood programs and education should look to cut budget items outside of the CCT, MPBF and PPP because the President himself has identified these as showcase projects of his administration.
According to Abaya, the criticisms against the CCT, such as questions on the ability of the government to prevent leakages and abuses as well as arguments to shift the dole-outs to livelihood funds, were counterbalanced by the endorsement of independent agencies like the World Bank that were detached from politics.
Abaya, who spoke at the weekly “Ugnayan sa Batasan” forum, said the MPBF, which would give control of the budget for the staff hiring of Congress, the Supreme Court and other co-equal agencies of the Executive, was part of the innovations being introduced by the Aquino administration to ensure transparency in the use of government funds.
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