THE PHILIPPINE government’s effort to provide monthly food subsidies for the poor has turned out to be a worthy investment, the World Bank said.
Citing findings of its recently completed study on the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, the World Bank said there had been favorable developments in the areas of health and education as a result of the subsidies.
“The report confirms that children [belonging to household] beneficiaries are enrolling and attending schools, with improved health due to regular visits to health stations, and pregnant mothers getting proper care,” the World Bank said in a statement.
Under the CCT program, the government provides monthly food subsidies to selected poor households. Beneficiaries are required to send children to public schools, and to have the children and the mothers regularly visit public health centers. The objective of the program is to increase school participation rate of children of poor households and to improve health conditions.
For 2013, the government has set aside P44.25 billion for the subsidy program. The amount will cover 3.5 million households, each receiving about P1,000 a month.
According to the study, 98 percent of children aged 6 to 11 belonging to beneficiary households are now attending school. This is higher than the 93 percent of children who are not covered by the CCT program.
The World Bank also said poor households covered by the program spend 38 percent more on education and 34 percent more on medical expenses than those not covered by the program.
“This trend indicates a shift in the spending pattern among CCT beneficiaries towards greater investments in health and education for the children,” said Nazmul Chaudhury of the World Bank, citing the study titled “Philippines Conditional Cash Transfer Program, Impact Evaluation 2012.”
Given the favorable findings, the World Bank recommends that the CCT program be strengthened by increasing the amount of investments.