MANILA, September 22, 2010—The country’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) serves as the backbone of a modern and consolidated social protection system in the Philippines, said Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman.
The CCT, however, is only one part of the “three legs of convergence” that the government is forming to help achieve inclusive growth in the Philippines. The other two—Secretary Soliman announced before the participants of the Inclusive Growth Forum hosted by the World Bank at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati—are community-driven development (CDD) and sustainable livelihoods.
“The CCT is indicative that we trust the poor. We trust that they will use the money for education and health because these are investments integral to increase their opportunity to gain human capital and enable them to uplift themselves out of poverty,” Secretary Soliman said.
There are 787,807 household beneficiaries in the program as of September 2010. DSWD is expanding the program to cover 2.3 million households by 2011.
Secretary Soliman said that the country now has an improved targeting system to ensure that program leakage is avoided and that the social protection program benefits the poor and vulnerable.
“The national household targeting system is now being eyed to be used in the expansion of the National Health Insurance Program,” Secretary Soliman added.
The second leg of the convergence, Secretary Soliman said, is Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).
Using a community-driven development (CDD) approach, the KALAHI-CIDSS helps poor communities develop necessary skills and provides them with resources to select, implement, and sustain small-scale community infrastructure projects and social services.
“Kalahi-CIDSS is essential in terms of promoting community cooperation and in increasing income generating opportunities for the poor,” explained Secretary Soliman, adding that this program is being implemented in 42 provinces and 200 municipalities.
So far, Kalahi-CIDSS has financed 5,326 community sub-projects including basic social services facilities, such as water systems, school buildings, health station and day care centers; basic access infrastructure, such as access roads and small bridges; environmental and disaster control infrastructure; and community enterprise facilities.
Both Kalahi-CIDSS and CCT are supported by the World Bank and other development partners.
The third leg, Secretary Soliman said, is sustainable livelihoods which allow people to go beyond immediate solutions by equipping them with the necessary skills and opportunities to improve their lives in the long-term.
According Ms. Margarita Songco, Deputy Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) who presented the emerging priorities of the new Medium-Term Development Plan, achieving inclusive growth is part of President Aquino’s “social contract with the Filipino people.”
“[Inclusive growth] is characterized by rapid, sustained, and broad-based economic growth, focused on creating more jobs and new opportunities to achieve full employment and significantly reduced poverty,” explained Ms. Songco.
“We need to get into a higher growth path over the medium term. And there is a need for structural changes to achieve that,” said Ms. Songco. “Secondly, we will equalize access to development opportunities across geographic areas and across different income and social spectrum.”
World Bank Country Director Bert Hofman expressed agreement with the priorities of the new MTPDP saying that sustained and rapid growth remains a cornerstone for poverty reduction.
“Growth must become inclusive through support for policies in education and the labor market, as well as support for sectors that generate more jobs for the people,” said Mr. Hofman. “There is now greater eagerness to undertake reforms to make sure that the poorest of the poor are not left behind.”
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, who also spoke during the forum, said that the government is structuring the budget to support these reforms. “We will make sure that funds are spent well, that our commitment to transparency and accountability are observed,” Secretary Abad said.