PNOY’s Highly Mediocre “Conditional Cash Transfers”

One of the surest ways to spot an altruist-collectivist or statist is by investigating the content of a person’s or a politician’s public speeches and socio-political programs. Based on President Noynoy Aquino’s pronouncements and programs, there’s no doubt that he indeed fits the bill.

During his first state of the nation address, the President talked about leveling the playing field through an antitrust law. (See my opposition to PNOY’s antitrust lawhere and here. Last year, the president talked about one of his major poverty alleviation programs: the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

The president vowedto improve the  program and make it more effective for the benefit of the most vulnerable members of society.

“I am happy to report that we are fine-tuning the mechanisms of this initiative. We will solve these problems, undo the bottlenecks, and make this program more effective,” the President said.

This news report further states:

The President told the program beneficiaries that the DSWD is implementing the National Household Targeting System to identify the families that most urgently need assistance in order to ensure that social funds are spent wisely on the most vulnerable members of our society.

“A well-targeted CCT program will truly afford the poor’s opportunity to enjoy basic human services that were once extremely difficult to avail,” he added.

The President also said that the fiscal year 2011 proposed budget will fund urgently needed programs on education, health and job generation.

In the said budget, P21.2 billion was allocated for CCT which will be distributed to 2.3 million household beneficiaries.

The 4Ps is a poverty reduction and social development program that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly of children aged 0-14.

Now, Quezon City Rep. Susan A. Yap introduced a bill entitled AN ACT TO REDUCE POVERTY AND PROMOTE HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE CREATION OF A NATIONAL CONDITIONAL FUND TRANSFER PROGRAM. 

This proposal is designed to address the following social problems:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality
  • Reduce child morality
  • Improve maternal health

The proposal also seeks to create an agency called Inter-Agency Council composed of several departments, namely, DSWD, DOH, DepEd, DILG, NEDA and NAPC. This council will act as a collegial body and shall have the following functions:

  • Formulate policies for the programs. This means the agency is given a quasi-legislative power to issue policies.
  • Oversee the implementation of the program.
  • Determine adjustments to grant rates and conditionalities in the course of the implementation of the program based on the studies and assessment of the program.

Ironically, not all the avowed leftists and leftist party-lists in Congress support this proposal. For instance, self-confessed progressive/leftist and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño criticizedAkbayan Representative Walden Bello’s 180-degree turn from being a harsh critic of the CCT to one of its most ardent proponents.

Casiño revealed that the program’s proposed budget for 2011 is P21.2 billion, which will “give cash subsidies to 1.3 million poor families purportedly to entice them into sending their children to school and to avail of health services for women and children. By 2016, target beneficiaries will be 4 million households with a budget of around P40-P50 billion.”

Since this CCT was designed and implemented by some socialist countries in Latin America and Africa and is being supported by globalist money lenders like IMF and World Bank, why is Casiño against this proposal?

Well, he said: “Conditional cash transfers are especially attractive to governments and funding agencies advocating poverty reduction because it artificially improves poverty statistics overnight.”

Furthermore, 37 lawmakers, most of whom are allies of the president, opposed the allocation of P21.9 billion to the conditional cash transfer program of the administration.

In a manifesto, the lawmakers said they would work for the realignment of funds intended for the CCT to the construction of schools hospitals, health centers, housing programs, agriculture and others that directly address the needs of the poor for jobs, livelihood and services.

“We, the undersigned, express our opposition to the allocation of P21.9 billion for Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in the 2011 General Appropriations Act at the expense of more vital social and economic services,” they said.

They said the amount appropriated under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development represents a two-fold increase from the P10 billion allocated to the same program in 2010.

“(It indicates) that CCTs have become the Aquino administration’s main strategy for poverty alleviation,” they said.

They questioned the wisdom of allotting such a substantial portion of government’s scarce resources to CCTs given the grave lack of funds for basic social services and economic services.

“The (CCT is) a costly palliative, an unsustainable program of dole-outs that will perpetuate the politics of patronage and encourage a culture of mendicancy. CCTs cannot take the place of a long-term strategy that addresses the root causes of poverty through asset redistribution and job generation,”“We, the undersigned, express our opposition to the allocation of P21.9 billion for Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in the 2011 General Appropriations Act at the expense of more vital social and economic services,” they said.

They said the amount appropriated under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development represents a two-fold increase from the P10 billion allocated to the same program in 2010.
“(It indicates) that CCTs have become the Aquino administration’s main strategy for poverty alleviation,” they said.

They questioned the wisdom of allotting such a substantial portion of government’s scarce resources to CCTs given the grave lack of funds for basic social services and economic services.

“The (CCT is) a costly palliative, an unsustainable program of dole-outs that will perpetuate the politics of patronage and encourage a culture of mendicancy. CCTs cannot take the place of a long-term strategy that addresses the root causes of poverty through asset redistribution and job generation,”

True, CCT is just one of the mediocre ways to allegedly combat poverty, as it negates/overlooks the role of the markets in poverty alleviation. But if we are to oppose this welfare statist program, it must be opposed on the following grounds:

  1. It’s an unjust tool of wealth redistribution. It’s like taking Pedro’s money in order to serve the welfare of Juan.
  2. The current economic crisis was/is caused by the government through its failed economic policies, regulations, punitive taxes, protectionism, cronyism, etc.
  3. Poverty is an economic issue, NOT a political issue. The government cannot legislate extreme poverty and hunger because this statist strategy will only create more problems and make the existing problem/s worse.
  4. It can be a source of corruption. In fact, it is corruption from the very beginning since its clear and obvious purpose is to serve the current administration and its proponents. This program is being supported by the current administration because it can be used to prop up the dwindling popularity of our ratings-conscious President.
  5. Economically, it is anti-free markets, and, in reality, it cannot alleviate poverty. So why waste “public” money?
  6. If the government were to alleviate poverty, the only solution is to revise the charter and then focus on economic and even political reforms. The solution is to guarantee economic freedom by forever scrapping our current 60-40 protectionist arrangements, repealing regulatory measures and laws, abrogating the labor code, and eliminating income tax and other forms of taxes.
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