Cash aid for poor may be increased if needed: finance official

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2018 09:16 AM | Updated as of Jun 19 2018 09:22 AM

People buy rice at a residential street market in Manila, February 7, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The government may increase unconditional cash aid for the poor to help them cope with rising consumer prices, a finance official said.

Imposing tariffs on rice is also a "priority" to bring down the price of the staple grain, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said late Monday. Fuel subsidies will also be given to public utility drivers.

Poor families can avail of cash aid of P200 per month, on top of conditional grants that are tied with keeping their children in school.

"Kung kulang ito, pwede naman natin balikan. Handa naman kaming tulungan ang mga mahihirap," Chua said when asked if the unconditional aid could be increased.

(If this is not enough, we can revisit. We are ready to help the poor.)

Asked if the P200 per month may be increased, Chua said: "Kung kailangan ng tulong, pwede nating balikan at idagdag kung kailangan."

(If help is needed, we can revisit and increase it if needed.)

The proposed national ID system will help the government identify beneficiaries and distribute the aid more efficiently, he said.

Chua said higher duties on fuel, which took effect last Jan. 1, were not entirely to blame for rising pump prices.

The first tranche of tax reforms also raised duties on sugar-sweetened drinks and cars to offset a reduction on personal income tax rates.

The second tranche, which aims to rationalize corporate taxes and incentives, is pending in Congress.