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World Bank OKs $450m for conditional cash transfer

The World Bank said over the weekend it approved a $ 450-million loan to support the conditional cash transfer program called Pantawid Pamilya, which disburses subsidies to poor Filipino families.

The Washington-based multilateral lender said its board of executive directors approved the new financing package to support the continued implementation of CCT program in the country. 

It would complement the $ 400-million loan approved by the Asian Development Bank to the CCT program.

Pantawid Pamilya provides regular health and education grants to millions of the country’s poorest households. 

The program targets poor and vulnerable households and helps protect them from the impact of economic shocks, natural disasters and other crises.  It currently benefits more than 4 million poor families with 11 million children.

The World Bank said the $ 450-million Social Welfare Development and Reform Project II would contribute to the government’s financing of health and education grants for CCT beneficiaries nationwide from 2016 to 2019, covering about seven percent of the total cost of the program’s implementation.

“Pantawid Pamilya,  as a long-term investment helps reduce the vulnerability of families to sudden economic difficulties and contributes to breaking the inter-generational poverty by helping today’s children become productive members of society,” said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.

“After only a few years of implementation, we are already seeing its tangible benefits to poor Filipinos. With continuing support from development partners like the World Bank, we can sustain our momentum toward reducing poverty and inequality,” she said.

Recent studies showed the program had reduced the total poverty and food poverty among CCT beneficiaries by up to 6.7 percentage points. 

Estimates showed the program reduced both total poverty and food poverty by up to 1.4 percentage points in 2013.

Soliman said the CCT program was delivering on its education and health objectives, resulting in the 5-percent increase in enrollment among poor elementary school children and the 7-percent increase in secondary education enrollment. 

The program also improved prenatal and postnatal care by 10 percentage points and increased the delivery of babies in health facilities by skilled health professionals by 20 percentage points.

The Social Welfare Department also said children benefited by receiving higher intake of vitamin A and iron supplementation by around 12 percentage points and increased weight monitoring visits to health facilities by 18 percentage points.

“The World Bank is steadfast in its commitment and support for the CCT because we believe it contributes to reducing extreme poverty and inequality,” said World Bank acting country director Cecilia Vales.

“Combined with high and sustained economic growth, CCT as a social safety net provides an equitable foundation for growth that works for the poor,” Vales said.

The Philippines’ CCT program has grown into one of the largest and best-targeted social safety net programs in the world, with 82 percent of the benefits going to the bottom 40 percent of the country’s population.

Globally, more than 1.9 billion people in 136 low- and middle-income countries benefit from social safety net programs like the CCT.

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