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WB cites cash transfer program’s weaknesses

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poverty
REUTERS

ALTHOUGH the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program has exceeded some of its objectives, the World Bank cited as a concern a reduction in number of families covered and missed targets in other metrics, as well as inefficient distribution channels.

An implementation status and results report of the World Bank’s support to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program noted that the program is compliant in three of seven key indicators, but is falling behind target in the other four.

As of November 2018, the Washington-based multilateral lender said that 91.3% of the monitored children in the CCT program are attending elementary school at least 85% of the time, which is above the 91% target.

Those attending high school made up 92.7% of the monitored children, above the 88.9% target.

The share of monitored children in poor CCT beneficiary households who transition from elementary to high school stood at 61.9%, higher than the 55% target.

However, the number of household beneficiaries that receive cash totaled 4.12 million families, fewer than the targeted 4.4 million.




About 96.2% of children below 5 years old who are being monitored under the CCT program have undergone health checks, compared to the 97% goal.

About 93.3% of monitored households attend the program’s monthly Family Development Session, lower than the 96% target.

“First, the total number of (regular) CCT beneficiaries is declining and has now fallen below the 2018 target because no new households were included into the program since 2016. Another concern is related to the still-high percentage of payments channeled through over-the-counter (OTC) methods (the proportion of households covered by cash cards is below target which highlights the long-standing concern over the limited capacity of the Land Bank of the Philippines to provide modern and efficient payment services to CCT beneficiaries),” the World Bank’s report read.

“The 2018 spot check survey is also behind schedule. The compliance rate on attendance to Family Development Sessions continues to be below target, which deserves further attention to investigate likely causes.”

As of end-November, there were 4.18 million households nationwide benefiting from the program. The government has used $321.124 million, or 71.4% of the $450-million World Bank loan.

The World Bank recommended expansion of CCT coverage. “There are solid arguments to expand coverage of Pantawid to include additional families in 2019, taking into account the large number of poor families with children that have not yet been covered. The mission continues to note the diminishing number of children covered by the program over the years, especially those who are below the age of five and are at high risk of malnutrition in poor communities, though at the same time acknowledges the efforts in reversing this trend by measures taken to sensitize Program municipal links on a more active approach,” the lender said.

“While there are important advances towards the institutional goal of moving all payments for CCT, UCT, and Social Pension to 100% cash cards, a continuing concern is that the available payment infrastructure is quite limited, which if not solved in the short run, will entail additional inconveniences and substantial transportation and time costs for beneficiaries.”

It said the national identification system will integrate information of CCT beneficiaries.

“DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) has informed the mission that plans for Listahanan 2019 are under way and the mission also has recommended to consider plans for a more dynamic registry following the census sweep approach next year [2019] and establish plans to ensure all Pantawid families are included and reassessed, as well as the implications for the rollover of the approved National ID system (PhilSys), which will facilitate improved interoperability between Listahanan and user programs.” — EJCT