Diokno assures 3-year budget for TRAIN-related subsidy

By Joann Villanueva

March 7, 2018, 3:36 pm

MANILA -- Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday said the government has the budget to finance the extended tax reform cash transfer (TRCT) project, which would be in place until 2020 from the original one-year program only for 2018.

TRCT was approved under the first package of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to address the impact of hikes in some basic commodities on the poor.

Under this program, 10 million family-beneficiaries, who belong to the lower 50 percent of the society, will receive subsidy amounting to PHP2,400 per family this year, which will be given on one-time basis instead of PHP200 monthly so as not to incur administrative charges.

For 2019-20, the subsidy will be raised to PHP300 per month or a total of PHP3,600 for the whole year.

Aside from the around 4.4 million families existing beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), other TRCT beneficiaries are the about 3 million social pension beneficiaries such as indigent senior citizens and the additional poor families that will be assessed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

DBM earlier said it has released some PHP24.5 billion to the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) for the cash transfer program.

4Ps households are scheduled to receive their additional subsidy this March, the existing social pensioners will receive theirs by April to May or earlier while the additional beneficiaries will get theirs by August or sooner.

Diokno said it was the lawmakers who decided to make the subsidy a three-year program from the proposed one-year implementation.

He assured the public that other government projects will not be affected by the extended cash transfer program since the government has increased its budget for social protection programs.

“That will also help increase consumption since we also aim for equity not just growth so that there will be no one who will be left behind,” he said.

Diokno said the unconditional cash transfer only amounts to PHP200 a month this year and PHP300 for the next two years since it is not meant to finance the expenses of the poor but address only the upticks in prices of basic commodities as a result of the tax reform, first package of which cut workers’ tax rates but hiked excise tax on fuels and introduced new excise tax, particularly on sugar-sweetened beverages, among others.

Diokno said the list of beneficiaries would be the same for the three-year period unless DSWD found a reason to remove some for certain reasons and bring in new ones. (PNA)