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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Rice discount voucher to benefit 7 million families

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At least seven million low-income families will benefit from a rice discount voucher program that will allow them to buy every month 25 kilos of affordable and good quality rice starting next year, Speaker Martin Romualdez said on Tuesday.

Romualdez said Congress earmarked funds under the P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget for the program, which he said would bring down the price of good quality rice by almost half for the intended beneficiaries.

“This subsidy program is our strong response to President Marcos’ call for the House of Representatives to come up with means to bring down the price of rice for disadvantaged Filipino families in difficult situations. It will benefit seven million families across legislative districts in the country, or roughly 28 million people,” he said.

“This is a recalibration of our Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) Program, and we made it more sustainable by transforming it into a rice discount voucher program so that more families can enjoy buying affordable rice,” he added.

Initially dubbed Bagong Pilipinas Community Assistance and Rice Discount (CARD), the new program was formulated in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local government units.

The program will be operationalized next year through the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) Romualdez said the program seeks to alleviate the burden on low-income families by providing discount vouchers directly to them.

He said the program would utilize the advantages of technology for efficient voucher distribution, tracking, and validation and to safeguard it from misuse.

“This program is to show all Filipinos that Congress and the administration of President Marcos are doing everything to bring down the price of rice for a more significant number of Filipino families,” the Speaker said.

As this developed, Congress also earmarked P26.7 billion for the expansion of government subsidies to near-poor households.

Romualdez said the program, dubbed as the Ayuda sa Kapos ang Kita Program or AKAP, will cover 12 million households.

“These are for the construction workers, factory workers, and the like. That is our endeavor: to cast a wider net to those who still need more support from the government,” he said.

House appropriations panel chairperson Zaldy Co added: “This AKAP program is for households whose members are employed but are not earning enough.”

The subsidy program for near-poor families will be on top of the AICS and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Social Welfare department which benefit the poorest households.

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