DSWD taking action on unwithdrawn cash grants for poor
MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development is already acting on an audit report flagging more than a billion pesos’ worth of conditional cash transfer (CCT) grants under the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that were not withdrawn for intended beneficiaries.
In its 2016 report on Official Development Assistance programs, released last week, the Commission on Audit (COA) noted that P1.28 billion in 2.6 million CCT beneficiary accounts had not been withdrawn at all from 30 days to up to six years. The amount led the state audit agency to say many 4Ps beneficiaries may not be in actual need of financial assistance.
In a statement over the weekend, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo admitted that “unclaimed grants are chronic problems that must be addressed by clear-cut policy on forfeiture. Operations issues on accounts verification is also a persistent challenge that we are now addressing.”
Taguiwalo clarified that to date, the unwithdrawn amount was actually only P1.121 billion in 194,198 beneficiary accounts. The DSWD is currently validating the status of these accounts to delist ineligible beneficiaries, as recommended by COA.
An initial validation, Taguiwalo said, showed that 7,129 accounts with a balance of P20.57 million were due for closure due to ineligibility or waiver from the program.
Meanwhile, 7,072 accounts with a total outstanding balance of P43.378 million had already been withdrawn by beneficiaries since COA conducted its audit, while 8,961 accounts with grants amounting to P53,262 was still up for withdrawal.
“Beneficiaries were either unaware that they have unclaimed grants or do not know how to withdraw,” Taguiwalo explained.
Meanwhile, the DSWD also found that 9,210 cash cards with a total balance of P116.638 milion had been lost, stolen, or damaged and were due for replacement, and 4,207 accounts with unwithdrawn grants of P37.280 million were inactive but appealed for household status.
Taguiwalo said 148,876 accounts containing a total grant of P702.709 million have been going through the process of validation.
Accounts will be closed or grants released once the final household status is updated in the Pantawid Pamilya Information System, according to the DSWD statement.
Taguiwalo added that the DSWD has been coordinating with its partner agency acting as the sole government depository bank for the Pantawid payout, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), on the results of validation so far. The LBP is the agency tasked to recover the unwithdrawn amounts for remittance back to the Bureau of Treasury.
Taguiwalo has clarified that liquidation is the primary responsibility of LBP. “On this point, we believe that the DSWD is not remiss in asking the LBP to liquidate,” Taguiwalo said,
“The [4Ps] program has major administrative weaknesses that lack clear-cut policies that address them…The present DSWD is crafting new financial management policies and procedures to intently address lapses in procedure and documentation especially since the program involves billions upon billions of borrowed funds that will be paid by the Filipino people,” Taguiwalo said. SFM