PH taps $300M loan to fund Pantawid Pamilya program

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    Faces of poverty. Children carry their free meals given during a feeding program at a slum area in Manila in this Reuters file photo.
    Faces of poverty. Children carry their free meals given during a feeding program at a slum area in Manila in this Reuters file photo.

    The Department of Finance (DOF) and the World Bank signed yesterday a loan agreement providing an additional $300 million financing for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the second phase of the Social Welfare Development and Reform Program.

    Carlos Dominguez, finance secretary, signed on behalf of the Philippine government, while Mara Warwick, World Bank country director, represented the multilateral agency.

    Witnessing the signing of the loan accord at the DOF office in Manila were secretary Rolando Bautista and undersecretary Aimee Torrefranca-Neri of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

    The DOF said in a statement yesterday this additional World Bank funding aims to further strengthen the 4Ps until 2022 by continuing to support the delivery of conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to millions of beneficiaries; improving the project’s implementation performance, monitoring and evaluation procedures; and upgrading key dimensions of the 4Ps’ program management.

    The agency added this will also help boost early childhood development and fight malnutrition among 8.7 million children from some 4.2 million families currently benefitting from the 4Ps program.

    The World Bank has contributed a total of $1.26 billion to the 4Ps since it first provided funding support for this program in 2010.

    “I thank the World Bank for facilitating additional financing for the Second Social Welfare Development and Reform Program,” Dominguez said after the signing of the loan accord.

    “The bank has been a strong and reliable partner in the implementation of our conditional cash transfer initiative called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps,” he added.

    Dominguez said the World Bank’s sustained funding support for the CCT for the country’s poorest households will go a long way in helping achieve the agenda of reducing poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022.

    Dominguez also cited the World Bank for its assistance in strengthening the capability of the DSWD as a social protection agency and the setting up of the “Listahanan” database for the 4Ps national household targeting system.

    As the Listahanan database is gradually linked to the National ID system, the targeting of beneficiaries and the efficiency and effectiveness of the 4Ps and other social protection initiatives will dramatically improve, Dominguez said.

    Warwick for her part said the World Bank is pleased that the government continues to strive to achieve even greater impacts from the program, including through innovations and investment in strengthening the Listahanan household targeting system; sharpening the program’s focus on children’s health and nutrition to reduce childhood stunting; and improving the payment system through introduction of digital technology for timely payments.

    According to Warwick, a World Bank study estimated that the country’s cash transfer programs are the second most significant contributor to poverty reduction in the Philippines after individuals’ wage earnings from non-agricultural activities.

    “4Ps has been critical in reducing poverty and promoting human capital accumulation of children from poor families in the Philippines,” Warwick said.

    “By making cash transfers conditional upon health checks of pregnant women and young children, school attendance among school-aged children, and participation in family development sessions, the program has significantly improved health and educational outcomes of poor and vulnerable families. We are proud to support programs such as this that help millions of families overcome poverty,” she added.