Tap cash transfer to feed more public school kids – Recto
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is proposing to increase by P2.6 billion ($58.06 million)* its budget for overheards in the implementation of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program in 2015, and Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto doesn't feel right about it.
This is because the budget for CCT scheme that will go to feeding programs in public schools will get zero increase.
“If the cash grant portion of CCT will remain at P57 billion, then why are we increasing the CCT administrative expense by P2.6 billion?” Recto said in a statement.
In fact, the senator would like to “validate the justifications for the proposed increases” in various items in the DSWD's proposed budget “because some of them, on paper, are hefty.”
For next year, DSWD’s proposed budget will soar to P109 billion – P25.5 billion bigger than what it is getting this year. If approved, it will make the DSWD one of the 5 agencies with the biggest budget.
Bulk of the DWSD’s 2015 proposed budget will be for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the CCT program, the Aquino administration's flagship poverty alleviation program.
Of the proposed P64.7 billion ($1.445 billion) for 4Ps, P57.1 billion ($1.275 billion) will be for the cash grants and P7.6 billion ($169.72 million) for administrative costs.
The proposed funding for administrative or overhead costs is an increase from this year's P5 billion ($111.65 million). It is supposed to cover personnel payroll (P3.35 billion), training (P404 million), publicity and information (P115 million), bank service fees (P700 million), and equipment purchase (P24.4 million).
Recto suggested that the P2.6-billion increase be on cash grants instead of on overhead costs. The amount can then be used for the program’s supplementary feeding activities, which currently have a proposed budget of P3.36 billion.
“If we allow half of the increase being sought, then it is still P1.3 billion in additional funding. Puwede nating pandagdag ito sa isang klase ng 4Ps naman,” Recto said.
The senator also pointed out that proposed budget for the CCT program's administrative operations is two and a half times the proposed budget of the Department of Tourism, thrice the budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, twice that of the Department of Trade and Industry, and bigger than the combined budgets of all the 29 state colleges and universities in Mindanao.
“Is the almost 185% increase in the publicity budget really necessary? Why are we increasing payroll by P1.4 billion? Why are we doubling the allocation for monitoring to P430 million?” he said.
The DSWD's current allocation for its feeding program serves only 2 million stunted children across the country. The figure only covers 30% of the estimated 7.3 million underweight, stunted, and wasted children below 5 years. (INFOGRAPHICS: Why you should care about stunting)
In a previous interview with Rappler, Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said budget constraints limit the coverage of their feeding programs in schools. The DSWD is able to spend only P14 per child for 120 feeding days.
Recto said the DSWD can either “increase the P14 per meal budget or increase the number of beneficiaries” of the feeding program. (READ: How to involve parents in school feeding programs)
“If we are putting too much on its plate, then we can ask DSWD to partner with other agencies like the Department of Education whose P1.3 billion feeding budget is way below what it needs,” Recto said. – Rappler.com
*P1 = US$44.78