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Adjustment in 4Ps cash aid

Manila Standard

How should the government position the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to really make a difference in the lives of the poor?

As the national poverty reduction strategy and a human capital investment program that provides conditional cash transfer to qualified household-beneficiaries, it will enable poor Filipino households to meet health and nutrition as well education goals to eventually break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

This month, the 4Ps supports 4.4 million households as active beneficiaries.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, the lead agency in implementing the program, emphasizes only households assessed as poor qualify for 4Ps benefits, following the mandate of Republic Act 11310 or the 4Ps Act.

To be eligible, households must have children aged 18 and below or members who are pregnant during the survey. Currently, the approved budget for the year 2024 covers 4.4 million households.

The Marcos Jr. administration is moving in the right direction in asking three government agencies to look into automatically adjusting the cash assistance given to 4Ps beneficiaries based on inflation or the rise in prices of goods and services.

The DSWD is now working with the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority to adjust government aid and grants according to prevailing inflation rates.

The Palace order to the three agencies seeks to find ways so as not to diminish or decrease the value of financial assistance given to the poor.

While the administration’s economic team is doing all it can to slow down inflation, it should also protect the peso value of the assistance grants given to 4Ps beneficiaries and other social protection programs.

Grants given to 4Ps beneficiaries are fixed under the 4Ps Act, and any increase will need to be recommended by the DSWD and enacted into a new law by Congress.

In fact, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies recommended last year an increase of 20 percent in 4Ps cash assistance to poor and near-poor families after finding out that the maximum annual amount of P31,200 a 4Ps household received in 2019 was worth only P14,524 in 2023 due to inflation.

The current monthly rates for health and education allowances given to beneficiaries range from P300 to P750, depending on the age of the child enrolled in school.

The 4Ps is an important tool in the government’s poverty reduction program and its cash assistance to the poor and near-poor cannot remain fixed but should keep in step with the prevailing economic situation to be really useful.

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