Senate might reduce P21B CCT budget to P15B PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 November 2010 11:04

The Senate will not only scrutinize the mechanics on how the P21 billion will be distributed under the government’s anti-poverty conditional cash transfer (CCT) program but it is also intends to reduce the budget to ‘manageable’ P15 billion.

Senate finance committee vice chairman Sen. Edgardo Angara revealed this plan on Tuesday, one day after the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading the P1.645 trillion budget for 2011 with the controversial P21 billion CCT program intact.

”That’s a lot of money. They might not be able to digest that P21 billion. That’s more than 100 percent increase over the current P10 billion. The amount should be manageable,” Angara said in media interview.

Angara is proposing to distribute the P6 billion cut from CCT program to research and developments of the selected state universities and collegues (SUCs), agriculture, health and other research institutions under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

”We should strengthen the R&D capability because it will sustain growth and it will give innovation and change to our country. So, that’s my target P6 billion for realignment to research and development,” Angara, an advocate of R&D programs being a former president of the University of the Philippines, said.

Angara also believes that the distribution of the budget should not be handled by one department alone, referring to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) but should be in coordination with the education and health departments.

”The CCT is an education innovation. Because of that, you should involve DepEd and DOH because if DSWD only, the people might think it is charity or dole out which is a dangerous thought to inject to our society,” Angara explained.

Angara further said that without the DepEd and DOH participation, the DSWD will have hard time to manage the CCT funds due to the size and scope of the program.

”The program’s target is 2.3 million families and the DSWD has limited manpower. We have to reexamine that. On the average, a Filipino family is times five or six. I believe in this program, it can be an effective poverty fighter,” Angara said.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile agreed with Angara, expressing concerns on how to check the recipients, the amount each one will receive and the distribution of beneficiaries.

”We have to look at it objectively. How much of the beneficiaries will come from Mindanao, from Visayas and from Luzon to see to it that the distribution is equitable,” Enrile said.

Enrile said there is a possibility that the Senate will reduce the CCT budget although he did not specify how much will be cut from the P21 billion.

”Whether that (reduction) will be exercised or not will depend upon our study of the budget or we may not cut but we may reallocate, augment some areas,” Enrile said.

Angara expressed optimism that majority of his colleagues in the Senate would support his proposal to cut the P21 billion CCT budget by P6 billion.

Aside from the CCT program, Angara said he would like also to touch the provision of the general appropriations regarding the hiring of additional teachers next year.

”The additional teacher under the present budget is only 10,000 but we have shortage of almost 27,000 teachers. Since we have CCT, I will propose that the DepEd’s feeding program budget be converted into hiring of additional 10,000 teachers to make 20,000 teachers,” Angara said.

The Senate is hoping to pass on third and final reading the proposed 2011 national budget on December 1.