DSWD hikes CCT grant fund, limits number of beneficiaries

Published by rudy Date posted on May 18, 2011

It really pays to be one of the President’s most favored men.

Yesterday, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman admitted that her agency’s budget for the controversial conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for 2011 was raised from the originally approved P21.19 billion to P23.39 billion. This despite the fact she did not raise the number of CCT beneficiaries pegged at 2.3 million families.

During her presentation before the hearing of the House appropriations committee presided by Guimaras Rep. Joaquin Carlos Nava, Soliman revealed an updated CCT budgetary program with 83 percent of the CCT budget or P19,334,914,080 allotted for the program grant, up by P2,197,049,647 from the original allocation of P17,137,864,333.

Originally, the grant fund comprised 80.86 percent of the total CCT budget, with the rest of the budget going to the maintenance and

other operating expenses (MOOE).

During the hearing, Soliman also bared they had utilized the services of another money remittance service firm, Globe Telecoms through their G-Remit program which was not included in the original CCT budgetary proposal.

In the original budgetary plan, only the Land bank of the Philippines (LBP) is to be utilized by the government in delivering the grant to the beneficiaries.

But while admitting the CCT budget was increased by more than P2 billion, Soliman said the number of beneficiaries remained fixed at 2.33 million families.

Also, the Social Welfare and Development secretary bared they delisted no less than 155,000 beneficiaries after they found out there were double entries in their list and that some of the beneficiaries actually were from well-off families.

During her interpellation in the budget hearing for DSWD, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo grilled Nava who defended the agency’s budget then, as the former chief executive claimed implementation of the program with 2.3 million beneficiaries for 2011, up by 1.3 million from one million in 2010, is near to impossible, given the limited time for preparations and the implementing agency’s limited resources and personnel.

Describing the present administration’s CCT program of her successor as “ambitious and untimely,” Arroyo, the originator of the country’s CCT program, took note that during her administration, it took them three years to cover a million households as it entailed them rigorous preparation for the program’s implementation.

“During my time as President, we planned it in 2007 and we rolled it out (CCT program) in 2008,” Arroyo told Nava during the budget deliberation.

“There were a lot of preparations needed. We have to prepare the absorptive capacity of the agency itself. We have to prepare the allied services in health and education whose demand would increase because of the conditions of the conditional cash transfer.”

What probably could cause CCT to fail, the former president said then, is the lack of support infrastructure for the program.

With the CCT requiring beneficiaries to have their children to continue their schooling and expectant mothers to undergo pre-natal care, Arroyo said the government still has to construct thousands of additional classrooms and birthing units which would take years to be finished.

With the lack of support infrastructure, the expanded CCT, Arroyo said, ambitious as it is, is doomed to fail.

“The details may look very nice on paper but I’ve been there, the implementation is certainly not that simple,” Arroyo said. –Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune

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