September 20, 2021

DSWD chief alarmed by CoA report on 4Ps

SOCIAL Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo expressed alarm Friday over the Commission on Audit finding that there was P6.3 billion in unliquidated funds for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) scheme.

"Although the CoA report indicated that the amounts remained either idle or unliquidated with LandBank and its conduits and other government agencies, the department is alarmed by the magnitude of the amounts involved because they are equal to more than 10 percent of the budget of the DSWD," Taguiwalo said.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo

Some P1.579 billion in funds meant for 4Ps beneficiaries have remained idle in state-owned institutions such as Land Bank of the Philippines and its conduits over five years of the Aquino administration, state auditors, said. More than 400,000 accounts of the beneficiaries did not reflect any withdrawals since the accounts were opened, amounting to P139 million in total.

The government's 4Ps dole program provides cash grants to poor families to improve their health and nutrition, and help in the schooling of children up to 18 years old.

The program is being carried out by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and is partly funded by foreign loans.

Taguiwalo said she and her team had earlier discussed this matter with career officials at the DSWD.

"We were made aware that the unliquidated amounts are lodged with agencies that are not under DSWD control, like the Land Bank of the Philippines, CHED [Commission on Higher Education] and some LGUs [local government units]. We will, therefore, explore more effective means to get their utmost cooperation and compliance to achieve our common goals," she said.

One of the mechanisms that DSWD is exploring is the use of a fund intercept for DSWD partner LGUs or a similar budget intercept for other agencies like CHED, and a penalty clause for LandBank and its conduits should they fail to liquidate DSWD advances to these entities.

Taguiwalo said the Duterte administration will ensure that the value of the public funds under its custody is not eroded due to any inefficiencies or misuse.

As part of the transition process at the DSWD, a comprehensive review of the financial system is being considered to evaluate its efficiency and effectiveness in implementing the DSWD's programs, including the 4Ps, also known as the Conditional Cash Transfer program.

The CCT was the Aquino administration's flagship anti-poverty program, and its budget was P62.3 billion. COA reported that as of Dec. 31, 2015, DSWD secured seven foreign loans amounting to P90.03 billion to implement five projects, three of which are still ongoing, including the CCT.

The Budget Department said Thursday that the DSWD's 4Ps would have P54.9 billion with a physical target of 4,402,253 households. About P17.9 billion will be allocated for 2,809,542 senior citizens under the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Filipino Citizens.

In the meantime, the World Bank approved a new $450 million (about P21-billion) loan to the Philippines to augment funding for the project in the next four years.

Among the comments the COA made was that there were recurring deficiencies in the implementation of 4Ps resulting in delayed delivery of assistance to rightful beneficiaries or unnecessary holding of idle funds by Landbank and its conduits.

Payments to qualified beneficiaries suffered delays by 12 to 15 months due to slow processing and release of checks or the absence of partner conduits, it said.

Source: The Standard