CAMARINES Sur and Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya Jr. on Sunday said government cash transfers—conditional and unconditional—could reach the P150-billion mark in 2019.
He said the budget proposed for four cash transfer programs—the 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (P88.1 billion), the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) from TRAIN Law (P37.6 billion), the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (P23.2 billion), and Pantawid Pasada Program for Public Utility Vehicle drivers (P3.9 billion)—is at P152.8 billion in 2019.
“But if we will compute other entitlement programs that will provide subsidy to certain sectors, which will not be coursed directly to them, but they will benefit from, the total funding could reach double that amount,” he said.
Even if the cost could be that high, he said, “it is justified because this is retail spending which improves public welfare.”
“If we give fiscal incentives and tax holidays to the rich, and call these foregone revenues a necessary expense, then how can subsidies that will help the poor, and fund their growth, be deemed unproductive?“ he said.
He said to fund free college education could never be deemed a bad investment.
“How can paying for universal health coverage be fiscally irresponsible? Among the other social protection expenditures for 2019 are the P67.4 billion that government will pay the Philippine Health Insurance for the insurance coverage of poor households and seniors, and the P3.5 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s feeding program for almost 1.9-million children,” he said.
“Other subsidies are in the form of investments. The biggest of which is in the development of the nation’s human capital—education,” he added.
“For basic education, there is a P32.1-billion outlay for the government assistance to students and teachers in private schools, in which government buys seats in private schools for students in areas where there is a shortage of public schools.”
Andaya said the free public college will be covered by the P51-billion allocation for the implementation of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education.
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