By Christine F. Herrera | Manila Standard
The House and Senate will review the economic impact of the Conditional Cash Transfer program amid concerns that the government doles have not helped alleviate poverty, even though its budget has more than doubled from P29.2 billion in 2011 to P64.7 billion next year.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committees on public works and local governments and House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora on Sunday expressed misgivings over the “dismal performance” of the CCT.
“I believe it is time for the CCT to get a strict review. There is no proof that after so many years, it has helped alleviate poverty, considering that the poverty rate has gone up over the years, to 27 percent at present,” Marcos said, questioning the lower 24.9 percent that President Benigno Aquino III cited in his State of the Nation Address.
In his address, the President tied a decline in the poverty rate to the expansion of the CCT budget, and said the program would expand its coverage in 2015.
Speaking after submitting the 2015 proposed budget to Congress last week, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the P64.7 billion allocated to the CCT next year would increase coverage to 4.4 million beneficiaries.
But Zamora said he was uncertain that after five or six years that the program was as effective as it should be.
“Should we not be looking at CCT less as a dole...and more of a job creation program which has a longer term and probably more sustainable growth pattern?” Zamora said.
Marcos, too, said he would rather that the budget for CCT be appropriated for projects that could generate jobs.
“Our people don’t need doles. To be self-sufficient, they need gainful employment. That’s the only way for them to get out of poverty,” Marcos said.
Marcos said he remained unconvinced that the Department of Social Welfare and Development had the “absorptive capacity” to deliver the services efficiently to the grassroots.
He said in several hearings of his panel, he learned that local government officials were not even consulted as to who were the rightful beneficiaries of the program.
“The DSWD only has regional centers. So we want to know who they tap to deliver the program to the grassroots. The mayors were there to assist them but the DSWD ignore these people who are supposed to know their constituents better,” said Marcos, who served as governor of Ilocos Norte before he became senator.
“These are the questions that we will be asking and obviously, we will be doing this not just on the general provisions but on a specific department budgets,” Zamora added.