Archive | July 16th, 2015

World Bank: Pantawid grantees cut drinking problem

Posted at Philippine Daily Inquirer website on July 16, 2015

By Paolo G. Montecillo

A sobering news for liquor makers is one positive effect of conditional cash transfer (CCT) for poor households in the Philippines.

The CCT program, called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), has led to a sharp decrease in alcoholism among the ranks of the poor, according to a new World Bank report.

The 4Ps is an expansion of cash transfers started by the previous Arroyo administration. From a small pilot of 6,000 families in 2007, the program grew rapidly to cover 4.4 million families at the end of 2014.

Apart from the original intended effects, namely higher enrollment rates and improved child health, spending on “vice goods” declined sharply in families covered by CCT, the report said.

Reaching key objectives

“Pantawid Pamilya increases households’ investments in education and does not encourage dependency or spending more on vice goods, such as alcohol,” the World Bank said in a report titled “The Social Safety Nets 2015.”

Spending on such vices was lower by 39 percent in families covered by Pantawid Pamilya than those that don’t get the dole, according to the report.

Across the country, CCT has led to better lives for millions of children, while income inequality has decreased. Children have become healthier and are staying in school longer, said the multilateral institution.

“Pantawid Pamilya is reaching most of its key objectives,” the report said.

Health insurance

Among Pantawid beneficiaries, about nine in 10 households are covered by the PhilHealth insurance program. The program also reduces the need for some families to make children work to augment household incomes.

Among beneficiaries, those ages 10 to 14 years old in the program work fewer days a month than children not in the program.

Pantawid Pamilya involves cash doles to qualified families on the condition that children stay in school. The CCT program also encourages regular checkups for mothers.

This year, the government expects to spend about P62 billion for the CCT program, up from just P9 billion when the program was started under the Arroyo administration.

Effective implementation

The World Bank report, which analyzed conditional and unconditional cash transfer programs around the world, said Pantawid Pamilya was among the five largest cash transfer programs on the planet based on the number of beneficiaries.

Data from 2013, which was cited in the report, showed 19 million people benefiting from Pantawid Pamilya. The biggest CCT program in the world is India’s, which covers close to 80 million.

The efficient implementation of Pantawid Pamilya was also noted by the World Bank.

“Pantawid Pamilya encourages the trial use of modern family planning methods. The program promotes facility-based deliveries and access to professional postnatal care and improves children’s access to some key health-care services,” the World Bank said.

Progressive

The government’s targeting was also praised. According to the World Bank, CCT programs such as Pantawid Pamilya should earmark at least 20 percent of the money spent for families in the poorest 20 percent of the population in order to make a difference.

If this indicator is above 20 percent, the distribution tends to be propoor or progressive; if it is below 20 percent, the distribution is regressive, the World Bank said. In the Philippines, 46 percent of CCT money goes to the poorest 20 percent.

Income inequality reduced

As a result, Pantawid Pamilya has led to a 2.4-percent reduction in income inequality and a 12.5-percent cut in the number of poor people, World Bank data showed.

Results of the World Bank’s analysis come amid criticism against Pantawid Pamilya. The House committee on poverty alleviation in May proposed the creation of an independent body that would look into alleged “leaks” in the CCT program.

The investigation stemmed from House Resolution No. 591 filed by Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing.

Complaints

Suansing called for an inquiry into alleged issues besetting the CCT program “with the end view of addressing the complaints and problems in the program and make the necessary remedial legislation.”

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of Pantawid Pamilya’s technical partners, said most issues were already addressed.

Since 2010, the ADB has worked closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to ensure funding goes to intended beneficiaries.

ADB technical assistance has supported the DSWD in implementing measures—such as a grievance redress mechanism, extra training for staff and spot checks in the field—to improve targeting models so they exclude noneligible families.

“Rigorous impact evaluations have shown that the program is meeting its overall objectives. Monitoring and evaluation of the program by government and partners will continue,” said ADB Philippines country director Richard Bolt.

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