WB to fund RP subsidies for poor

Published by rudy Date posted on December 5, 2008

THE World Bank would fund the Philippines’ education and health subsidies for poor families amid the global financial crisis, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

The government is tapping the multilateral lender for a proposed P25-billion five-year social safety net program involving conditional cash transfers.

Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral said the program is planned to cover about 321,000 poor families by the end of the year, with each household expected to receive a monthly monetary support of P800.

The cash grants to beneficiaries include P500 a month for health and nutrition expenses and the remaining P300 a child for educational expenses. In effect, a household with three qualified children could get P1,400 a month.

Cabral said the program encourages poor families to invest in the future, in particular in the health and education of their children and in the nutrition and food for their families.

“Our program which we call Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino [PPP] enhances the role of parents and helps them accomplish their duties and responsibilities to their children,” she said.

Besides the conditions that beneficiaries’ children should stay in school and have regular check ups at health centers, the DSWD also requires pregnant women to get pre- and post-natal care and be assisted by skilled birth attendants during childbirth.

The DSWD began piloting the cash transfers involving 6,000 families in poor communities in Agusan del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Pasay and Caloocan in January this year.

Initial results, Cabral said, indicate improved use of educational and health services among the poor, thus enabling local government units to meet their social service targets.

Bert Holfman, World Bank country director, earlier said the lender is willing to allocate $80 million to $100 million for the country’s cash transfer program.

“The cash transfer is a very good and effective program. It’s also a developmental program intended to give people better health services and education,” he said.

The offered money is part of the World Bank’s $1.2-billion funding to fight the global food crisis, including $200 million in grants to poor countries facing the worst crisis. –Chino S. Leyco, Reporter, Manila Times

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