Senate cuts CCT funds by P8 B

December 8, 2015

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate has slashed funds for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program for next year by P8 billion, from P64 billion to P56 billion.

The huge reduction would mean delisting about 500,000 beneficiary-households, reducing the program’s 2016 targets to 3.5 million poor families.

The program gives monthly cash assistance to the “poorest of the poor” families provided they keep their children in school and they attend family planning sessions.

It is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Senators diverted the P8 billion they cut from CCT funds to the Philippine Air Force (PAF), to which they allocated an additional P10 billion.

According to reports reaching the House of Representatives, Sens. Juan Ponce Enrile, Vicente Sotto III and Loren Legarda were the sponsors of the P10-billion PAF augmentation.

Legarda chairs the Senate finance committee and is a reserve officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. She heads the smaller chamber’s contingent in the conference committee on the 2016 budget.

The House conferees, led by appropriations committee chairman Rep. Isidro Ungab of Davao City, are trying to fight for the restoration of the P8-billion reduction.

For his part, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the government should review the CCT program.

Marcos said the CCT funds should be spent on infrastructure projects that could generate more jobs for the poor.

The conference committee is expected to finish its job this week so that the final version of the proposed 2016 budget bill could be approved next week before Congress goes on its month-long Christmas recess.

Senators also reduced funding for the Department of Agrarian Reform by P500 million, from P10.132 billion to P9.632 billion.

They cut funding for the Office of the President by P66 million, from P2.826 billion to P2.760 billion.

On the other hand, they gave the Department of Agriculture an additional P695 million, increasing its budget to P47.883 billion.

In the past, augmentations and realignments were treated as pork barrel funds of the senators or House members who sponsored them.

The other recipients of the senators’ generosity included the Office of the Vice President, whose 2016 funds were increased by more than 100 percent, from the House-approved P230.5 million to P500 million.

The Senate increased its own budget by P161 million to P3.716 billion.

It gave the Senate Electoral Tribunal an additional P105 million, increasing its budget to P244 million.

Source: Philstar