Press Release
November 23, 2010

'Conditional' approval of P21-B CCT program eyed

Sen. Ralph G. Recto today said that the approval of the P21 billion proposed budget of the government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for next year should also be "conditional," saying the fund should be earmarked for other purposes if it is not used properly.

Recto, chair of the Senate ways and means committee, said that this can be achieved by inserting a special provision in the proposed 2011 national budget putting in place a strong reportorial mechanism of developments in the implementation of the CCT program and allow its dissolution if grossly mismanaged or found to be extremely difficult to administer.

"I believe the goals of the program are commendable, but the approval of its budget should also be conditional. If we see problems and hitches during its execution, then the money should go somewhere else," he said.

"I can think a lot of areas where this fund can be channeled if the CCT program fails. For one, the Calamity Fund needs to be augmented in order to address the woes of our farmers after calamities."

He said that the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

"And almost every year, we experience at least one strong typhoon that destroys billions worth of crops. Our farmers would need aid in these times," he added.

Recto said the special provision should be crafted in a way that would require the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) to report on the status of the program to Congress on a quarterly basis.

"We should create a strong congressional oversight process to this program. This way, we can monitor if the DSWD is implementing the CCT program as promised or as envisioned. If not, we immediately take it away from them," the senator said.

He explained that his view will harmonize all positions in favor or against earmarking P21 billion for the program.

Some senators expressed doubts in the capacity of the DSWD to implement the program on a wider scale and proposed slashing the allocation to P15 billion, some even as low as P5 billion.

"If a strict reportorial mechanism is in place, then we can measure the absorptive capacity of DSWD to carry out the goals of the program. If they really cannot do it, then it will show," Recto said.

"If in six months they are not able to utilize the fund as programmed, then what remains of the P21 billion CCT fund will automatically go to President Aquino's Calamity Fund, which can be used to aid our farmers affected by calamities."

The CCT program requires that parents-beneficiaries, prior to getting the cash transfer, will have to make sure that their young children are going to school at least 80 percent of the time.

The program is an expansion of the one initiated during the last administration.

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