Unknown to more than 100 million Filipinos, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank approved in February an $850-million loan to the Aquino administration for widening the number of beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.
ADB granted $400 million and the World Bank, $450 million, raising the Philippine government’s indebtedness to the two multilateral financial institutions to $1.8 billion.
Research group Ibon Foundation on Tuesday expressed disappointment with the Aquino administration resorting to huge borrowing to pursue a “dubious” CCT Program, or more popularly known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
The program started by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Its total budget from 20111 to 2016 is P295 billion for a total of 4.4 million beneficiaries.
With this huge outlay, the Philippines ranks fourth in terms of budget for the CCT Program.
The first is India, second is Brazil and the third is Mexico.
Initially, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) told Aquino not to continue the program, saying it has “no substantial” effect and impact on reducing poverty.
Ibon shared NEDA’s view, citing Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) finding that poverty incidence recorded in 2015 was 26.3 percent from the 27.9 percent in 2012.
It said almost 27 million Filipinos remain poor three months before Aquino steps down in June.
Even the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and Associated Labor Unions (ALU)–the country’s biggest labor federations–are not in favor of the dole-out style of addressing poverty, saying the CCT Program does not encourage the poor to work in order to free themselves from destitution.
The Ibon Foundation learned that the next administration would be paying $1 billion to the ADB and the World Bank for the Aquino administration’s debt to the two financial institutions.
It noted that leading presidential candidates like Vice President Jejomar Binay have signified their willingness to continue and even expand the 4Ps program if elected.
“But the next administration should resist the populist appeal of the 4Ps, reassess the program and implement a genuine anti-poverty economic program,” Ibon said.