By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter

THE GOVERNMENT will start handing out cash transfers to some 7.4 million households by March, with the P200 monthly subsidy expected to help poor families cope with rising prices of basic goods.

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DoF) said 4.4 million existing beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program as well as 3 million senior citizens receiving social pensions will start receiving additional doleouts this February, representing the unconditional cash transfers provided under the tax reform law.

Signed into law as Republic Act 10963, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law introduced additional taxes on fuel, cars, coal, sugar-sweetened drinks and a host of other items, which took effect Jan. 1.

Majority of Filipinos will also enjoy bigger disposable incomes under TRAIN, as it reduced the income tax rates for those earning below P2 million yearly. However, this does not include minimum wage workers as they are already exempted from paying duties under the old tax regime.

Some P25.67 billion or 30% of the additional revenues generated by the new tax law will be spent on “social protection” programs, largely for the cash transfers to the 10 million poorest families in the country.

Under the program, these households will receive P2,400 this year to help them keep up with higher daily expenses as a result of the TRAIN law. The subsidies will increase to P300 a month or P3,600 annually for 2019 and 2020.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the 7.4 million families will be receiving a top-up in their existing conditional cash transfers as early as this month if they are getting their benefits via automated teller machine cards. Those withdrawing over the counter through rural banks, cooperatives and non-government organizations will receive additional money by March.

Meanwhile, senior citizens will get the additional benefits by next month as well.

Mr. Chua said that the remaining 2.6 million families will receive P2,400 worth of cash transfers by August, citing a report from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.