MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday asked Congress to fund an increase in cash grants under the government's conditional cash transfer program.
During the deliberations of the agency's P209.667-billion budget for next year, Agri party-list Rep. Wilbert Lee noted that a study supported the need to raise the cash aid under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.
"Last May 29, 2023, a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (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.
"Yun po P300 noong 2019, kailangan na po nila ng P366 ngayon. Nabawasan ng kalahati ang value, yung total cash grant na pwede matanggap ng beneficiary. Ano po ang recommended action dito ng DSWD as lead agency of the NAC?" Lee said.
He then asked the DSWD's budget sponsor, Negros Oriental First District Rep. Jocelyn Sy-Limkaichong, "Did you propose this to the DBM? May this representation know why hindi na-include itong recommended increase sa 2024 budget proposal ng DSWD?"
Limkaichong explained that the National Advisory Council approved the proposal, but only after the National Expenditure Program was finished.
She said the matter is still being discussed with the Department of Budget and Management and the agency is asking Congress to write in a special provision into the 2024 budget putting this under unprogrammed funds.
These are are standby funds that will be spent only once government is able to identify a funding source which could be excess revenues, new revenues or loans.
Lee said the PIDS recommended a 20 percent hike in the cash grant.
Limkaichong said the power of the purse is with Congress, so it could grant this through the special provision.
She said about 1.1 million households were being reassessed after they were tagged as non-poor, which caused them to lose their cash grant entitlement.
She also said there would be retroactive payment for 755,638 households following reassessment worth a total amount of P12.69 billion.
Limkaichong said the assessment of those delisted is 99 percent complete so all pending payments should be out within the year.
— Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News