Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Senate panel oks DSWD 2013 outlay; Drilon confident CCT can withstand senators’ scrutiny

MANILA, August 28, 2012-The Senate Finance Committee approved and will submit for plenary deliberations the proposed 2013 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) amounting P55.98 billion – excluding budget of attached agencies – a major portion of which is the P44.26 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), said its chairman Senator Franklin M. Drilon.

Drilon also said he is confident the Senate will support the social protection packages being implemented by the DSWD, given the alarming statistics on the poverty in the country.

“We consider the budget approved and will submit for consideration of the Senate. I am confident that the program can be explained well to the Senators, and I see no problem in having the budget of DSWD approved,” said Drilon.

“The data on the poverty incidence in 2003 is very disturbing. The poverty threshold was P12,475 annually per household. If the family income falls below this level, the family is considered as poor” said Drilon, citing that poverty incidence in 2003 was 30 percent, and in 2006, it rose to 32.9 percent.

“In the provinces, poverty incidence is more alarming because there are certain provinces were the poverty incidence was twice higher than that of the national average, specifically in the provinces in the Autonomous Regions of Muslim Mindanao and in certain parts of the Visayas,” he added.

“It is really as serious problem, but what is important is 4Ps is the first program that tries to reach out to the poor in order that we can influence a change in the behavioral pattern of heads of the family to give more importance to health and education,” said Drilon.

Drilon said the budget of DSWD is 15.11 percent higher than its current appropriation of P48.63 billion, whereas the government’s main poverty reduction program, the 4Ps, also known as the conditional cash transfer program, increased by 12.2 percent from P39.45 billion this year.

“The increase will basically cover an additional 700,000 household beneficiaries in 2013 reaching the target of 3.8 million from 3.1 million in 2012,” said Drilon.
Moreover, upon the intervention of the committee, Drilon said the department moved to trim down from 10 percent to 8.67 percent, equivalent to P3.83 billion, the administrative cost of CCT in 2013. In 2012, the administrative cost amounts P3.5 billion.

“Through the efforts of our committee, we were able to reduce the cost of operation for this program from 10 percent to 8.6 percent that results in a savings of P440 million which will go to the grants to cover 70,000 more families in 2013,” pointed out Drilon.

CCT or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) provides cash grants to beneficiaries to be used for health and nutrition and for educational expenses, noted Drilon. The beneficiaries were identified through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

It provides a monthly stipend composed of up to P1,400, on condition that they send or keep their children in school, that their children receive immunization and that mothers avail of pre-natal and other check-ups.


MANILA, August 28, 2012-Senator Edgardo J. Angara stressed that it is important to consider the different classifications of cigarettes and liquors in imposing excise tax under the proposed amendments of the sin tax bill.

“Stakeholders have different interests. For example, there are low-priced cigarettes and premium-priced cigarettes, same as for liquor. So taxes should depend on the classifications. We have to weigh and study each classification just to be equitable,” Angara said in a TV interview.

Under Senate Bills 2763 and 3249, excise taxes on liquor are computed based on alcohol content and per liter of volume capacity while excise taxes on cigarettes are imposed per pack.

Both measures aim to raise taxes on alcohol and cigarettes through a unitary taxation system regardless of price so it would be easier to administer and monitor.

However, beer and cigarette companies have already raised their concerns that the proposed sin tax measures tend to discriminate against low-priced brands since they would incur the biggest tax increase.

Angara, a member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, suggested an ad valorem tax instead, where a uniform rate would be levied across all products based on their price.

As the House of Representatives has already approved its version of the measure, Angara is optimistic that the Senate will also pass its counterpart sin tax bill.

“This will pass. The only question is the adjustment of excise taxes for each category. This is the primary contention,” he said.

The senator also expressed hope that the measure will achieve its goal of deterring young people from smoking and drinking alcohol, and protect them from the lifelong consequences of smoking and alcohol abuse.

“When cigarettes are too cheap, young people will be encouraged to smoke. But if they are more expensive, they will think twice,” Angara said. 


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