By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral, Businessworld, Feb 17, 2017
SECRETARY Liza L. Maza, head of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), yesterday said the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program will not address poverty in the country and should be eventually phased out.
Instead, she said, the government should “devise” programs such as livelihood development that have “impact” on poor families.
“So to end poverty, we must address its roots in underdevelopment and inequality. That is why we have decided to focus our efforts on policy advocacy since many of the things that we need to end poverty require new policy or fundamental changes in existing policy,” Ms. Maza said in a press briefing at Malacañang.
The NAPC chief, one the left-leaning members of the Cabinet, also said the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist groups led by the National Democratic Front is important “as addressing the roots of armed conflict is also addressing the roots of poverty.”
“Right now, the talks [have] already started in relation to the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms. And this agreement actually addresses the root causes of armed conflict,” Ms. Maza said.
In a press briefing last month, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” A. Concepcion said the government should “gradually” shift its funding for the CCT program to the Trade (DTI) and Agriculture (DA) departments’ “intervention” projects for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in 10 years.
The Philippines started implementing a CCT program under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009. President Benigno S. C. Aquino III then adopted and expanded it under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The program provides cash grants to the country’s poorest families under certain conditions, including sending their children to school and availing of regular health check-ups.
The government allocated P62.7 billion for the 4Ps last year. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank earlier approved loans amounting to $400 million and $450 million to support the implementation of the program over four years to 2019.