MANILA - A huge chunk of government funds intended for poor families are not going to the right people, according to the Asian Development Bank.
The ADB study said nearly P19 billion of the conditional cash transfer program's P62 billion budget did not go to the poor.
It also said the CCT program needs to improve the selection of its beneficiaries.
"The inclusive growth study notes, however, that improvements are needed in the program's targeting system to reduce an estimated leakage rate of 30 percent," the report said.
The ADB said the conditional cash transfer program dubbed the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program improved health outcomes and increased school participation among children 6-14 years old.
"While the long-run impacts of the program on poverty have yet to be analyzed, it is expected to improve the employability of the poor, enhancing their resources and capacity to respond to environmental shocks. This is crucial for this country where direct damages of natural disasters cost more than 0.5% of gross domestic product every year," it said.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said the government is already working to address errors in screening beneficiaries for the CCT program.
She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has already delisted more than 100,000 families.
She said the first household targeting survey was done in 2009 during the Arroyo administration.
She also clarified there are a number of families who may be considered non-poor but actually have the same living conditions as those below the poverty line.
CASH FOR THE POOREST
Inspired by similar efforts in Latin America, the conditional cash transfer program is designed to help reduce poverty.
Under the program, a family with a maximum of three children can get up to 1,400 pesos monthly for five years. Part of the amount comes as a health grant and the rest educational assistance.
To qualify, a family must belong to the poorest of the poor based on a government identification system.
There must also be children up to 18 years old and/or a woman pregnant by the time a family is assessed by the DSWD.
In exchange, pregnant women must go through pre-and post-natal care and the childbirth administered by a professional.
Children up to five years old are required to undergo checkups and vaccines.
Those between six and 14 years old must receive deworming pills twice yearly while those between three and 18 years old must be in school attending at least 85 percent of the classes every month.
As of March this year, the program has covered 4.4 million families including 11 million school children.
The program comes with a price tag of at least P62 billion.
Critics say that despite the enormous amount, the CCT program has not made any significant impact in reducing poverty.
They say it also breeds a culture of mendicancy.
There have also been complaints about cash grants either going to the wrong people or not being received on time.