WB’s acclaim of DSWD CCT program is a bad joke

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The reports that the World Bank (WB) gave the country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program – the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program – high marks for being one of the “largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world” is at best, misleading and at worst, a grand deception.

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We read the 185-page WB report evaluating the social safety net programs of various countries entitled, “The Sate of Social Safety Nets 2015” but we have not read any such glowing statement specifically praising the country’s CCT program.

As such, the alleged effusive praise of the country’s CCT program by the WB’s Lead Technical Expert on Social Safety Nets, Ruslan Yemstov, is but a positive spin on a non-achievement.

A careful reading of the WB report shows the country’s Pantawid program was considered one of the largest social safety net programs because it has one of the highest number of beneficiaries in the world – 4 million households (or 19 million people) and counting. But that’s only because PNoy and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Dinky Soliman ramped up the Pantawid program in the last 3 years. Of course, largest does not necessarily mean effective.

Also, the WB report does not say that the Philippines had “one of the best targeted social safety net programs in the world.” What the report actually says is that “CCTs [conditional cash transfers]are among the best targeted

programs…”

That simply means CCT programs are better at reaching the poor compared to the other types of social safety net programs like unconditional cash transfers (UCTs), school feeding, in-kind transfers (or dole outs in kind [e.g. food stamps] rather than cash), social pensions, and public works.

In fact, the WB report says there is nothing extraordinary about the country’s accomplishments under the Pantawid program. A 2014 impact evaluation study cited by the WB report found that the results of the Philippines’ Pantawid program are just “comparable to the levels of impact found in other CCT programs around the world at [the same]stage of program maturity, particularly in terms of the program’s achievements in improved use of health services and school enrollment.”

The WB’s propaganda for the Pantawid program is not surprising. Over the last decade, CCT programs have become a favorite anti-poverty initiative of international aid organizations for developing countries. And the WB is admittedly the leading donor and backer of CCT programming. As principal proponent of the Pantawid program, WB is hard pressed to prove that it is achieving positive results for the aid money it spent.

The WB’s motives, however, are not purely altruistic. As they say, there’s no free lunch in this world. Money that’s borrowed must be repaid – with interest.

Since 2010, the Aquino government has accumulated at least $900-million (P42.3 billion) in loans from the WB and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund the CCT program. This is on top of an earlier $405 million (P19 billion) loan from the WB in November 2009.

According to the research group IBON, it is estimated that the country’s total loan service for the WB and ADB loans for the CCT program could reach at least $1.007 billion (or P46 billion at current exchange rates). This does not include the interest payments on the $500 million loan obtained by PNoy in 2014.

So what do PNoy and Soliman have to show for this massive taxpayer burden? Not much, based on both government and independent data.

In the latest Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) by the Philippine Statistics Authority, poverty incidence among Filipinos even went up to 25.8 percent in the first half of 2014 from 24.6 percent during the same period in 2013. Subsistence incidence among Filipinos (or the proportion of Filipinos in extreme or subsistence poverty) in the first semester of 2014 remained at 10.5 percent, the same level in the first half of 2013.

The APIS results on the worsening poverty in the country mirror that of Social Weather Station (SWS) surveys.

In its latest poverty survey in March this year, the SWS said the country’s poverty level remained unchanged. More than half of Filipino families (51 percent) still rated themselves as poor during the first three months of the year compared to 52 percent in the previous quarter, and the 2014 average of 54 percent.

Meanwhile, dropout rates among elementary and high schools students have been on the upswing since 2008. According to figures from the Department of Education, the dropout rate in the elementary level went up from 6.02 percent in SY 2008-2009 to 6.81 in SY 2012-2013. The same trend can be observed for the secondary level dropout rate, which ranged from 7.45 percent in SY 2008-2009 to 7.82 percent in SY 2011-2012.

Nonetheless, Budget Secretary (and Liberal Party stalwart) Butch Abad insists on allocating a whopping P62.35 billion budget for the 2016 CCT program despite the Pantawid program’s dismal results. This, to our mind, is clearly in aid of election, not in aid of the poor.

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10 Comments

  1. The best solution to reduce or to end poverty starts with the basic foundation of a community which is the family.

    Why would you build a family that you cannot support it, that you cannot feed, that you cannot send your children to universities, et al. Most of the poor do these things and they will blame the government for minimal social services or none at all and poverty is the government’s fault. Moreover, the leftist organization will mobilize these poor families and exploit issues against the government.

    Most of the poor perceive their children as investment. This is the reason why the poor is always poor.

  2. Bakit kailangan ipangutang pa sa WB at ADB ang pagpondo sa CCT programs gayung ipinamagmalaki ng administrasyong Pnoy ang malaking savings ng gobyerno?

  3. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    29 September 2015

    As far as the total loan of $1.007 BILLION [or P46 BILLION] which the Government got from the WB and the ADB are concerned, which was spent on Pres. Aquino’s CCT program, that is “money down the drain” because at the very best the incidence of Poverty in the country has just “stood still,” if not actually worsened in the last six years or so.

    That must be the reason why the DSWDD and the NEDA have just come up with another anti-Poverty Program they dub the “ASAPP.” Obviously, although both agencies, and President Aquino, are not eager to admit failure, this is the very reason a new program is now on the horizon.

    Some reports say that President Aquino has thrown the total humongous amount of P246 billion to his signature anti-poverty program, probably in the honest belief that such an amount could “lick” the problem of widespread and chronic poverty which afflicts at least 30 million Filipinos. I am convinced that President Aquino and the Secretary of the DSWDD are sincere, but sincerity, in this particular instance, has proved not enough to lick the problem.

    The had better try listening to Pope Francis who, although without a PhD from Harvard of Wharton, apparently knows how to lick the problem when “He warned Catholics not to multiply like rabbits!”

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  4. The WB and the IMF are fronts for the international lending mafia made up of the world’s biggest private banks. Their product is DEBT, so as long as we indebt ourselves, it doesn’t matter to them if you throw all that money into a bottomless pit, the real objective is to enslave the country, and this is achieved by just manufacturing all that money out of nothing. That is the simple reason why the CCT makes them happy. Here is a quote from the internet that sums it up very clearly: Money is a hoax, debt is slavery, media is manipulation, religion is control and THE SYSTEM IS A LIE.”

  5. For how long can the gov’t continue to give dole outs to the poor?

    And where will the gov’t get the money to pay the World Bank?

    Rather than giving the poor dole outs, why not teach them to acquire skills that will make them earn a living? This is where TESDA can be put to good use. The infrastructure gap, especially in the rural areas, can also be funded with this borrowed money to build more roads, bridges, schools, health centers using the beneficiaries of the CCT as workforce. It may also use the funds to train and hire more teachers for public schools; doctors and nurses (which we have an abundant supply of) for rural health centers.

    Part of the funds can also be used to subsidize farm inputs like fertilizers and pesticides to help farmers. Irrigation dams may also be built by hiring the unemployed. Special economic zones in every region can be built with these funds training and hiring housewives to work in garment manufacturing plants, for instance.

    GIVE MAN FISH, AND HE WILL EAT FOR ONE DAY;TEACH MAN HOW TO FISH, AND HE WILL LIVE AND EAT FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

    The CCT is a waste of borrowed money if it will continue as a dole out program. And the poor will only grow in number and sink deeper in poverty.

    ONLY POLITICIANS BENEFIT FROM THIS DOLE OUT SYSTEM.

    POLITICIANS DECEIVE THE POOR AND KEEP THEM POOR SO THEY WILL FOREVER BE INDEBTED TO POLITICIANS.

    • yes. they can be sent abroad. they wouldn’t mind parting from their families for a while as long as they make money

  6. Bravo! Bravo! A very good and sharp column. More power and more success as a writer, Atty. Dulay. You should write more often, sir, instead of the long-winded and ex-politician Atty, Adaza.

  7. You should evaluate the program according to its objective. Is it aimed at reducing poverty incidence or just a temporary stop- gap measure?. As the name would suggest, it is “pantawid”.

    REPLY
    The big problem is that so many on the list of recipients do not exist or are the fake names of the DSWD and barangay officials.