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4.3M 4Ps families to get P106B in financial aid

ABOUT 4.3 million families covered by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps will receive P106 billion in financial grants next year, a House leader said on Monday.

Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mike Romero, president of the 54-strong Party List Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), said the aid to the poorest of the poor comprises the bulk of the proposed P169.3-billion 2021 budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which implements 4Ps.

Romero, one of the authors of the law institutionalizing 4Ps or conditional cash transfers, said the program grants a monthly subsidy of up to P1,500 to qualified families, provided they comply with certain conditions, including keeping children in school and attending family development sessions.

He added that the program funding for 2021 represents an increase of P5 billion over this year’s P101 billion.

“The increase means that more poor families will receive financial assistance from the government,” Romero stressed.

The House leader pointed out that the total appropriation for 4Ps for next year actually amounts to P113.8 billion, including P7.8 billion for administrative cost and other expenses.

He said P4.7 billion of the P7.8 billion will go to salaries, P1.6 billion to “cost of service,” P289 million to “bank service fees,” P432 million to “monitoring and evaluation/spot checks,” P393 million to administrative expenses, P111 million to training, and P27 million to information, education and printing of manuals and booklets.

Romero noted that these miscellaneous expenses form part of the annual appropriation for 4Ps.

He called on the DSWD to clarify certain yearly allocations, like those for “cost of service” and “bank service fees,” whether these are separate expense items or are one and the same totaling a combined P2 billion.

Romero urged state-owned Land Bank, the principal conduit of 4Ps cash grants, and other participating banks to reduce their service fees.

“A 50-percent reduction will mean an additional P1 billion that could go to beneficiaries or more poor families benefitting from the program,” he said.

Romero said the P169.3-billion DSWD budget for next year also includes P41 billion for social protection programs like medical, transportation and burial assistance, and P4.3 billion for disaster response such as the provision of relief goods.