THE WORLD Bank is recommending an expansion in the coverage of the government’s cash transfers, known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, due to their effectivity in reducing poverty.
“The Bank considers that there are enough arguments to expand coverage of Pantawid to cover additional families in 2019, taking into account the large number of poor families with children that have not yet been covered (about 2 million),” the bank said in an implementation and status report dated July 17.
The World Bank is helping fund the payouts to CCT beneficiaries from 2016 to 2019 under the Philippines Social Welfare Development and Reform Project.
The bank provided $450 million worth of financing for the government, which covers 7% of the CCT payout.
“Considering the ambitious national goal of reducing poverty from 21% to 14% in 2022, Pantawid has already demonstrated important poverty reduction impacts,” it noted.
“The Bank continues to note with concern the diminishing number of children covered by the program over the years, especially those who are below the age of five and at high risk of malnutrition. This highlights the unrealized potential for Pantawid to play a leading role in addressing the Philippines undernutrition crisis,” the bank said.
The World Bank noted that a third of Filipino children under five are stunted, indicating undernutrition.
“Following the example of Peru, which cut its stunting rate in half in less than a decade, the Bank team has recommended that DSWD establish an interagency committee to enhance the impact of Pantawid on nutrition,” it said, referring to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
However, it also flagged some delayed payouts due to logistical issues with the Land Bank of the Philippines, which it noted as a “critical aspect that has not been solved yet.”
“Many beneficiaries and DSWD local personnel express frustration over payouts being canceled at the last minute, ATMs without sufficient funds to disburse money to beneficiaries, and perennial delays in issuing and replacing cash cards,” the bank said.
“The Bank has recommended exploring additional/alternative payment providers to achieve more efficiency in the download of grants to the beneficiaries and, in the long-term, achieve 100% use of cash cards or point of sale terminals,” he added.
“DSWD should prioritize completing Listahanan 2015 with the missing Pantawid families that were not assessed,” it added, referring to the database of targeted beneficiary households. “For the Listahanan to stay relevant, the Bank has recommended DSWD to consider the need for a more dynamic registry, which is reflected by the requirements of its biggest users.”
It also noted that the national ID system will help plug leakages to the conditional cash transfer program.
It said the progress made towards reaching the project’s objectives as well as the implementation progress are “moderately satisfactory.” — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan