Rice vouchers under 2024 budget to benefit 28M Filipinos

By Jose Cielito Reganit

December 12, 2023, 2:03 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Congress has earmarked funds under the PHP5.768-trillion 2024 national budget to implement a government program that would drive down the price of quality rice through monthly rice discount vouchers for almost half for 28 million Filipinos.

“This subsidy program is our strong response to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s call to 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,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said in a statement Tuesday.

“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 aims to allow low-income families to buy 25 kilograms of affordable and good quality rice monthly using CARD as a discount voucher.

The program would use modern technology for efficient voucher distribution, tracking, and validation and to safeguard from misuse, he said.

The program was formulated in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian and local government units (LGUs).

It will be operationalized through the DSWD’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) under next year’s national budget.

The DSWD is mandated to formulate further rules and regulations regarding the program.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have agreed to fund the program during the bicameral committee conference hearings on the 2024 national budget as a way to give life to President Marcos’ aspirations of bringing down the price of rice.

The additional AICS funds will cover the necessary budget allocations for the rice discount vouchers. (PNA)