Poor families to get P200 tax reform subsidy starting January

MANILA, Philippines – This January, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is set to begin the release of a P200 cash subsidy for poor households affected by the tax reform law.

DSWD Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco said on Monday, January 15, that a total of 10 million families would benefit from the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) scheme.

These are households who won't be able to afford higher prices of goods and services resulting from the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Around 4.4 million of the beneficiaries are members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) while 3 million are indigent senior citizens under the Social Pension Program. The remaining 2.6 million will come from the DSWD's Listahanan, its targeting system for poverty reduction.

Of the 4Ps members, 1.8 million with cash cards or automated teller machine (ATM) cards will receive the additional benefit starting January 31. The 2.6 million 4Ps members without cash cards will receive the UCT grant through conduits as soon as possible, according to Leyco.

Implementation for the Listahanan beneficiaries will also follow at a later date.

"It will take around 3 months for the department to validate the beneficiaries from Listahanan. The final list is expected to be ready by May and the distribution completed by June," Leyco said in Filipino.

The UCT will be implemented for 3 years. For 2018, each family will receive P200 per month or a total of P2,400 a year. This will increase to P300 per month or P3,600 annually for both 2019 and 2020.

A total of P24 billion has been allocated for the UCT in the 2018 budget.

The DSWD earlier created the Project Management Office to spearhead the implementation of the program.

"DSWD continues to coordinate with the Department of Finance, the agency that formulated TRAIN, along with the Land Bank of the Philippines where the funds are disbursed. We are also speaking with other institutions and financial conduits or organizations to be our partners in implementing the UCT," Leyco added.

Signed into law last December, TRAIN was implemented starting January 1. The measure increased the take-home pay of salaried workers but imposed higher taxes on fuel, cars, sugar-sweetened beverages, and tobacco to offset the loss of government revenue.

Consumers have lamented that the increase in their earnings would only go to the additional cost of goods and services. 

Progressive groups, meanwhile, stressed that the 15.6 million informal sector workers and 2.4 million unemployed Filipinos are the most affected by the tax reform law. – Rappler.com 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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