The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in coordination with Land Bank of the Philippines, has started to release yesterday the cash grants to some 1.8 million household-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program under the national government’s Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program provided for by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. The first beneficiaries of the UCT are the Pantawid households that have Land Bank cash cards. More than P4.3 billion was released by Land Bank for the 2018 cash grants of the 1.8 million household-beneficiaries.
In the meantime, the total number of Filipino households and individuals who will receive the UCT is pegged at 10 million. The beneficiaries are divided into three main categories: 4.4 million will be the members of the 4Ps program; 2.6 million will be coming from the social pension senior citizen beneficiaries; and the remaining three million will be coming from the DSWD’s Listahan.
For now, Pantawid beneficiaries can already withdraw their 2018 cash grants amounting to P2,400 through Land Bank Automated Teller Machines (ATM) nationwide.
Crediting of UCT grants was completed yesterday for the 419,663 accounts of beneficiaries the National Capital Region ( NCR), Regions I, II, and the Cordillera Administrative Regions (CAR). Crediting of UCT grants for beneficiaries from other regions will be completed today.
Yesterday, around 100 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries went to Land Bank Espana where a simple launching of the UCT was held. DSWD-Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco was at the bank site to witness the withdrawal of the beneficiaries.
Today, a simple UCT pay out activity is being held at the DSWD Central Office in Batasan for some 100 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. The Land Bank has set up a mobile ATM at the DSWD grounds where the beneficiaries can withdraw their grants. DSWD has also designated a special lane for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
OIC Leyco explained that the 1.8 million Pantawid beneficiaries are the first to receive their UCT cash grants out of the 10 million target recipients because they already have active cash cards from Land Bank. “Since these families already have cash cards, we decided that they will be the first batch to receive the grants as it is easier for Land Bank to facilitate the transfer of funds. The cash grants were directly deposited to their accounts by Land Bank,” he said.
The UCT cash grant is a top up benefit for Pantawid beneficiaries who are also receiving their regular cash grant and P600 rice subsidy from the Pantawid Pamilya Program.
Biggest tax reform mitigation program
UCT is the tax subsidy provided under the TRAIN law to help the poor cushion the adverse economic effect of the policy. It is considered to be the biggest tax reform mitigation program under the TRAIN law which seeks to provide 10 million beneficiaries with cash subsidies amounting to P200 a month for 2018 and P300 a month for 2019 and 2020.
OIC Leyco said, “Tax reforms have caused economic shocks among the ranks of the poor, and this was foreseen. This why the UCT scheme was created by the TRAIN law. Knowing that the poor will be most affected, DSWD lost no time in putting together the implementing guidelines of the UCT so that the cash grants can be provided as soon as possible.”
DSWD also coordinated with the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and came up with a joint circular on the UCT program implementation which specifically states that the funds will be lodged with the Land Bank and to be used in accordance to the operational guidelines of the of DSWD.
“On February 28, the Department approved the implementing guidelines and today, we are providing the first payment of the cash subsidy to the 1.8 million Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries,” OIC Leyco explained.
OIC Sec. Leyco continued “Today, the 1.8 million Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries can now withdraw their UCT cash grants amounting to P2,400, which is the total amount of the 2018 subsidy. To minimize administrative costs, the DSWD has decided to give the UCT cash grants on a yearly basis.”
“We are confident that the beneficiaries will use their subsidies wisely, as various studies reveal that 98 percent of poor families spend government cash grants on food and basic commodities,” OIC Leyco remarked.
Meanwhile, the Department is currently exploring all measures so that the remaining 8.2 million beneficiaries will soon receive their UCT subsidies. ###