WB backs conditional cash transfer program
MANILA, Philippines—World Bank Group president Robert B. Zoellick, who was in Manila last week, has backed proposals to expand the government’s food subsidy program for the lowest-income Filipino households, saying that economic growth should benefit the poor.
Zoellick described the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program as a prudent safety net for poor families, especially in these tough economic times.
“…in these globally uncertain and risky times, the relatively new conditional cash transfer program here in the Philippines offers a vital safety net to the most vulnerable people,” Zoellick said in a briefing last Thursday.
CCT is a program under which governments provide subsidies to poor households, subject to certain conditions.
In the case of the Philippines, the CCT program requires recipient households to send children to public schools and mothers to regularly visit public health centers.
For 2011, the Aquino administration allocated P21 billion for the CCT to cover about 2.2 million poor Filipino households.
Over the short to medium term, the administration intends to spend much more on the program to increase the coverage to at least 4 million families.
Zoellick said the Aquino administration’s policy on transparency and good governance is vital in the efforts to expand the CCT program, as it will help ensure that the money goes where it should.
Under the CCT program in the Philippines, each household receives a P500 monthly allowance to subsidize its basic food needs plus P300 for every child that goes to school. A maximum of three children can get the allowance.
The World Bank has provided loans to help the Philippine government bankroll its CCT program.
Zoellick said the developmental institution would continue to back the program, which he said was one of the best ways to spread the benefits of economic growth.
Making families send children to public school as a condition to get the cash benefit is believed to be a good strategy to ensure education of school-age children and aid in the country’s long-term economic development.
About 40 other World Bank member-countries implement a conditional subsidy program for the poor.
The CCT program in the Philippines started toward the end of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term in 2010.
The Aquino administration decided to expand the program this year and enhance the government’s social services.
“President Aquino has said that good governance is good economics. I think that good governance is vital if the Philippines and other countries want to step on the pedal and accelerate growth to benefit all,” Zoellick said.
The president of the World Bank Group visited the Philippines to learn about the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption programs, which Aquino highlighted in his speech during the recent annual meetings of member-countries of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
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