CCT still Aquino govt's anti-poverty centerpiece
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government's target to reduce poverty to 16.6% by 2015 is dependent largely on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, according to the economic planning agency.
In a statement on Wednesday, July 18, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the CCT will receive one of the biggest allocations in the 2013 budget to help the government meet its poverty and other development targets.
Neda Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan said that the proposed PhP2.006-trillion budget in 2013 was designed so the government’s programs will have a significant dent on poverty targets and development goals will be achieved earlier.
"The government’s proposed budget for 2013 is P2.006 trillion, which is 10.5% higher than the P1.816-trillion budget this year. Next year, almost a third of the budget will go to social services," Neda Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
The CCT, a centerpiece of the government's social services, is a cash incentive program for poor households that requires recipients to send their children to school and submit them to regular check-ups. Pregnant women are also required to regularly see a doctor during their pregnancy.
The CCT program covered 3.1 million families as of April 2012, exceeding this year's target of 3 million.
Balisacan noted that enrollment rates in kindergarten, elementary and secondary levels between 2009 and 2011 have improved. "The [enrollment] levels in elementary increased to 91% in 2011 from 88.1% in 2009," he said.
“For example, the target in education is to bring down the classroom gap to zero by next year, instead of by 2015. Teacher and textbook gaps are also aimed to be brought down to zero by next year,” Balisacan said.
The CCT helps plug the gap between the economic growth experienced by some sectors of the society and the poor.
Balisacan stressed that, despite the continuous economic growth from 2000 and 2009, the proportion of poor Filipinos seemed to plateau between 2000 and 2009. Why economic growth was not trickling down to the poor puzzled him when he was still in the academe (he assumed his Neda post this June).
Official poverty statistics, based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, showed that the proportion of poor families stood at:
- 28.4% in 2000
- 24.9% in 2003
- 26.4% in 2006
- 26.5% in 2009
In the same period, the economy grew between 3.5% and 4.7%.
Given the government's massive investment in social services, Balisacan expressed hope that the poverty survey would show better results.
"I would be surprised if we don’t see a reduction in poverty in this year’s FIES given the expansion in social services and respectable growth.
He also cited the tame inflation in the past months. "Inflation is a very important determinant of poverty because it affects the purchasing power of the poor more than it does affect the rich," he said.
18 July 2012