The CCT dilemma
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
A recently released World Bank report which analyzed conditional and unconditional cash transfer programs around the world entitled “The Social Safety Nets 2015” is commending the Philippines' Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program for reaching most of its key objectives.
The 4P's or Pantawid Pamilya, which turns out to be among the five largest cash transfer programs on the planet based on the number of beneficiaries began from a small pilot of 6,000 families in 2007 and has grown rapidly to cover 4.4 million families by the end of 2014.
Aside from achieving higher enrolment rates and improved child health, the report also discovered that spending on “vice goods” declined sharply in families covered by the CCT. Families covered by the 4P's spent 39 percent lower on vices than those that don't get the dole. It also found that 9 out of 10 households that are Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries are covered by the PhilHealth insurance program and it has reduced the need for some families to make children work to augment household incomes.
Any government program that is expected to dole out P62 billion this year alone is likely to meet criticism and demands for more controls to discourage corruption and leakages. The amount involved and the nature of the program that has been exploited for political ends in the past do not make such calls surprising in any way and it is the obligation of the government running the program to ensure its transparency and accountability if it wants to dispel those fears.
Comparing the costs with the benefits of a CCT program as massive as our 4P's will always be difficult for a country that continues to struggle with the twin evils of corruption and extreme poverty. We will always be torn between the allegations of leakages within the system and the encouraging reports and positive feedback from competent and non-partisan international organizations such as the World Bank.
Our best bet is to continue keeping programs like the 4P's under our constant vigilance so the government knows it is being watched by its taxpayers who are hoping it succeeds but at the same time will not tolerate any shenanigans as far as their money is concerned.*