THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the government’s cash transfers need to be adjusted for inflation to ensure that beneficiaries’ purchasing power keeps up with rising prices.
“When inflation erodes the purchasing power of the grant, then the benefits from the program will be diminished,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said at a House appropriations committee meeting.
He was responding to 4Ps Party-list Representative JC M. Abalos, who proposed amending Republic Act (RA) No. 11310 or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act to reflect an increase in the cash grants.
Mr. Abalos also cited inflation in his proposal to increase the amounts transferred to beneficiaries.
Inflation eased to 4.7% in July due to slower increases in food and utility prices, but the indicator remains above the central bank’s 2% to 4% target for the year.
“There is a need to maintain the purchasing power of the grant,” Mr. Balisacan said.
He proposed that cash grants be increased every few years.
“If you intend to amend that, (I would suggest) that (a provision) where they can be adjusted every five years (or) every three years automatically by the rate of inflation,” he said.
RA 11310, or the 4Ps law, provides cash grants to the poorest households on the condition that they commit to help raise key development metrics, like submitting to nutrition and health checks, and keep children in school. The program currently assists 4.4 million families.
Under the proposed P5.77-trillion national budget, the 4Ps program has been allocated P112.8 billion.
The House is currently preparing the 2024 General Appropriations Bill. Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez has given a target completion timeline of five weeks, with four weeks devoted to committee work and a week for plenary.
“Having received the budget proposal 20 days earlier than the constitutional deadline, I am confident that the House of Representatives will be able to deliberate and pass the national budget on time and transmit the same to the Senate,” Mr. Romualdez said in his opening speech. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz