DSWD assures beneficiaries increase in subsidies despite reenacted budget

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the Philippine government now operating on a reenacted budget, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) gave assurances that the increase in the benefits of the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program will be implemented as scheduled this year.

In a statement Thursday, January 10, the DSWD said beneficiaries of the UCT will still receive an increase in cash subsidies to P300 per month or P3,600 per year in 2019 and 2020. Before this, beneficiaries received P200 per month or P2,400 per year in 2018. (DSWD chief: P2,400 subsidy not enough to shield poor from TRAIN impact)

The UCT is given to poor families to cope with the impact of the tax reform law.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the increase had been scheduled for 2019, but a reenacted budget would have delayed that as it affects government services eyed for expansion this year. (READ: What to expect as gov't operates on a reenacted budget)

However, DSWD Assistant Secretary for Policy and Plans Noel Macalalad said this was not the case for the UCT as it was already budgeted by the Department of Finance (DOF).

“The UCT and the prescribed P300 pesos per month for 2019 will push through…. Pero budgeted ng DOF, kumbaga alam ng DOF they need such amount (It was budgeted by the DOF, they know they need such amount),” Macalalad said.

Macalalad said families can expect to receive the P3,600 in subsidies by June 2019.

Should the distribution go on as scheduled, it will also not be affected by the reenacted budget as President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the 2019 budget in February this year. (READ: PH gov’t to operate under reenacted budget until Feb 2019)

Under the program, 10 million households covered by the UCT include 4.4 million 4Ps beneficiaries, 3 million senior citizen-beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program, and 2.6 million households from the DSWD’s Listahanan or database of poor households. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.