Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said the government should not spend more money for the expansion of its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.
Instead, Marcos said the government should allocate more funds for basic infrastructure development program that would not only generate a lot of jobs but also strengthen the foundation of our economy.
The government’s budget for CCT next year will increase by 42 percent from P44 billion this year to P62 billion in 2014.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman said the program would be extended next year to children aged 15 to 18 years old who attend high school from the original coverage of up to 14 years old.
“The CCT was always meant to be a temporary program, dahil ang dapat nating isipin e trabaho, hindi abono,” Marcos said.
He noted that despite the much-touted economic growth of the Philippines, the unemployment rate in the country rose to 7.5%, equivalent to 3.08 million Filipinos, in April from 6.9%, or 2.8 million Filipinos, in the same month of 2012.
Likewise, Marcos pointed out that the July 2012 poverty rate of 27.9 percent is practically unchanged from 2006 and 2009 data, according to NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board).
Besides, Marcos noted that an impact study by the government, with the support of international partners, showed that P120 billion spent for the CCT in the past six years across two administrations did not make a dent on poverty incidence among targeted sectors.
Given the government’s budgetary constraints Marcos said it would not be wise to expand the CCT coverage, as he noted that unlike in other countries, our CCT program is funded by loans.
A paper of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said that with the expansion of the program since 2008 it became necessary for the government to secure loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank amounting to a total of $805 million or P34.6 billion.
Since the program needs to be sustained for a long time to have a significant impact on the lives of the poor, Marcos said the government might just be forced to borrow more.
“So perhaps panahon na, na kailangang pag-isipan. Hindi kakayanin ng gobyerno na pataas ng pataas yan every year—we simply don’t have funds for it, ” Marcos said.
Marcos said the government is already spending a lot of money on the CCT program but has neglected public investment on basic infrastructure development.
“Kung hindi natin pagagandahin ang sitwasyon sa kuryente, kung hindi natin pagagandahin ang sitwasyon sa telecommunications, kung hindi natin pagagandahin yung transportation system natin hindi lalago ang negosyo,” Marcos said.
“Kung walang negosyo, walang trabaho, walang kita; pati gobyerno walang kita dahil walang buwis. So, ganyan ang dapat na ating pag-iisip,” he added.