WB OKs $450M for 4Ps

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The government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) has secured additional multilateral support, with the World Bank Group announcing a $450-million financing package.

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Pantawid Pamilya is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program aimed at ensuring that children grow up healthy and stay in school. Poor families are given grants if they send their children to school, visit health centers and attend family development sessions.

In a statement over the weekend, the Washington-based lender said its Board of Executive Directors had approved the $450-million Social Welfare Development and Reform Project II (SWDRP2) financing package.

“The World Bank is steadfast in its commitment and support for the CCT because we believe it contributes to reducing extreme poverty and inequality,” World Bank Acting Country Director Cecilia Vales said.

“Combined with high and sustained economic growth, CCT as a social safety net provides an equitable foundation for growth that works for the poor,” she added.

The funds will help the government finance health and education grants for CCT beneficiaries up to 2019, covering about 7 percent of the total cost of the program’s implementation.

The World Bank said the Philippines’ CCT program had grown into one of the largest and best-targeted in the world, with 82 percent of the benefits going to the bottom 40 percent of the country’s population.

Globally, it said, more than 1.9 billion people in 136 low- and middle-income countries were benefiting from social safety net programs like the CCT.

By targeting poor and vulnerable households, the program also helps protect them from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters and other crises, it said, adding that 4Ps at present benefits more than 4 million poor families with 11 million children.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman said the program, as a long-term investment, helped reduce the vulnerability of families to sudden economic difficulties and contributed to breaking inter-generational poverty.

“After only a few years of implementation, we are already seeing its tangible benefits … With continuing support from development partners like the World Bank, we can sustain our momentum toward reducing poverty and inequality,” she said.

Recent studies show that the program has reduced the total poverty and food poverty among CCT beneficiaries by up to 6.7 percentage points, the Cabinet official claimed.

At the national level, the program reduced both total poverty and food poverty by up to 1.4 percentage points in 2013, she added.

Earlier this month, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it would be lending the Philippines another $400 million for the expansion of the 4Ps.

The Manila-based ADB approved an initial $400-million loan in 2010 to strengthen the 4Ps’ poverty targeting system, finance a share of the cash grants to 637,000 households in selected areas, build capacity among program staff, and support monitoring and impact evaluation.

The ADB said it was also providing a technical assistance grant of $1 million for demand-driven policy and advisory services.

The additional financing will be provided over four years to December 2019.

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