Gov’t Cash Program for Poor is a Mess – COA

Glenda M. Gloria

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MANILA, Philippines – The government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program – the Aquino administration’s flagship anti-poverty measure – is a big mess, according to the Commission on Audit’s 2010 consolidated audit report on official development assistance (ODA) projects.
The project, also called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is the major project under the Deparrtment of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) funded by a US$405-million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed on January 7, 2010.
COA said as of December 31, 2010, there was still incomplete documentation as to how P6.64 billion project funds turned over to the lone depository bank was spent as it blamed the failure of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to strictly observe the implementation guidelines.
“Fund transfers in the amount of P6,640,973,340.38 to the Land Bank of the Philippines for the payment of the CCT …remained unliquidated at year-end due to failure of the management to compel LBP to submit the required liquidation reports,” the audit agency said.
Unless remedied, COA said the situation could lead to more serious problems including unreliability of the cash in bank balance, accumulation of idle funds in the bank and may even “cast doubts on the propriety and regularity of the disbursements.”
A review of the records likewise raised questions on handling of funds as well as the soundness of the criteria used as basis for disbursements due to findings that some P363.31 million was transferred to LBP even if there were no actual beneficiaries.
The audit team also found that P192.33 million cash grants were released to beneficiaries who did not submit the required Compliance Verification System (CVS).
In another case, P19.47 million earmarked for over-the-counter payments of CCT had to be withheld when it was found that the supposed grantees had already been paid but the records contained double or even triple entries of numerous names.
COA recommended that DSWD make immediate coordination with Land Bank to determine if double or triple-entry beneficiaries ended up being paid twice or thrice already.
It also required that a clean up of the CCT database be conducted as soon as possible to rid the list of multiple-entry beneficiaries.
This is seen as a big headache since as of mid-2011, DSWD announced that there were already 2.3 million poor households enrolled in the program. Additional 700,000 families are also expected to be included next year.
“Occurrence of discrepancies in the names of grantees per payroll, per database, per clean list and per LBP’s liquidation report …cast doubts on the reliability and accuracy,” COA warned.
There was also overpayment of education benefits amounting to P9.93 million as COA discovered that beneficiaries in fact failed the qualification for such stipend.
The audit report also pointed to the lack of information on household income as a weakness in the selection process employed by the DSWD to determine which families become beneficiaries of the program.
This was made glaring by the finding that in some barangays, there were only between one to six families who became beneficiaries of the CCT.
“Non-inclusion of this information during the survey and selection of poor household resulted to the enrolment and inclusion of those not extremely poor as envisioned under the program,” auditors said.
In addition, they recommended the insertion in the criteria for eligibility that an applicant should not be engaged in any illegal activity.

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Glenda M. Gloria

Glenda Gloria co-founded Rappler in July 2011 and is currently its executive editor.