‘Asian nations should emulate PHL’s 4Ps’

Published by rudy Date posted on August 5, 2019

By Cai Ordinario, Business Mirror, Aug 5, 2019

Staff of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s office in Region 7 check the documents submitted by the Pantawid Pamilya partner-beneficiaries before receiving their EMV chip-enabled cards from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) being implemented by the Philippines has a good grievance mechanism that Asian countries can emulate when rolling out social protection programs, according to a London-based professor.

In an Asian Development Blog, London School of Economics Associate Professor Bob Babajanian said instituting grievance redress to avoid unfair selection and exclusion in a social protection program will help prevent corruption.

Babajanian said many social protection programs in Asia operate with inadequate grievance redress. Sans this mechanism, he said, there will be more opportunities for nepotism and corruption.

“Pantawid’s grievance redress system sets a good example in the region. Grievances can be submitted via multiple links, including face-to-face contacts, as well as SMS hotline, e-mail, letter and drop boxes. A computerized database allows effective recording and tracking of complaints,” Babajanian said.

Further, Babajanian said the 4Ps program requires spot- checks done by senior officials and independent parties to determine the effectiveness of the grievance mechanism.

As a result of the system put in place in the 4Ps, he said the government has made retroactive payments to households, and some beneficiaries found to be ineligible have been delisted.

Babajanian said effective grievance redress requires various channels for feedback, appeals and complaints. Social protection programs also mean having enforcement mechanisms to act on grievances.

“Developing clear and consistent rules and procedures for program implementation may be less resource-intensive than introduction of technology-based registries or payment systems. In practice, this translates into supporting the development of legislation, operational manuals and guidelines that underpin programs,” Babajanian said.

He also said the support of international organizations also makes social protection programs effective.

Last June, the World Bank disclosed that it granted a fresh $300-million loan to support the Philippine government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program for the next two years.

The annual budget for the 4Ps is $1.7 billion. The additional funding from the World Bank will cover 9 percent of the 4Ps budget through June 2022.

The new loan will address malnutrition and promote early-childhood development. It will also help the government strengthen the implementation and impact, including more efficient payment systems, monitoring and evaluation, and family development sessions.

The 4Ps is a conditional cash transfer program currently benefiting 4.2 million families, including 8.7 million children. It provides cash grants to poor families to ensure that children stay healthy and in school, thus reducing school dropout rates, discouraging child labor and enabling them to break free from poverty in adulthood.

Further, pregnant mothers receiving grants are required to get pre- and postnatal checks to help ensure safe motherhood. Parents attend “family development sessions” where they strengthen their knowledge of child care, and are empowered to demand better and expanded social services from the government.

Implemented in 145 cities and 1,483 municipalities in the country, the 4Ps is responsible for a quarter of total poverty reduction in the country, according to the World Bank 2018 Poverty Assessment.

Other achievements of the program include a 4.9-percent increase in enrollment among children 12-17 years old from a baseline of 80.4 percent, and a 10-percent increase in enrollment among children 16-17 years old from a baseline of 60.8 percent.

The World Bank also said the program was responsible for the 30-percent reduction in the enrollment gap between boys and girls ages 6-14, and increased access by poor women to maternal and child health services such as antenatal care.

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