PBBM tasks DSWD to safeguard financial assistance amid inflation

PBBM tasks DSWD to safeguard financial assistance amid inflation

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has tasked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) with creating an index-based system to protect the value of financial assistance and grants given to Filipinos amid rising inflation.

In a Palace briefing on Tuesday, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian explained that while the economic team is working to bring down inflation, it is crucial to safeguard the peso value of government grants like those under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

"The President tasked us to study how to avoid diminishing or reducing the value of the financial assistance we give to our fellow countrymen," Gatchalian said.

"We understand that the economic team is doing everything to lower inflation, but we also need to protect the peso value of the grants given, especially those for our poorest countrymen," he added.

DSWD to collaborate with PSA, NEDA for index-based mechanisms

The DSWD is collaborating with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to develop an index-based mechanism to adjust benefits and grant amounts based on the cost of living or essential goods.

According to Gatchalian, the move is in line with the President's thrust to ensure social protection programs are relevant and responsive to the needs of the times.

"We want to make sure that financial assistance, whether it's 4Ps grants or any other social protection program, is not left behind if there are spikes like inflation," Gatchalian emphasized.

"This is crucial to ensuring that rising prices do not further burden our poorest countrymen," he added.

Gatchalian also pointed out that inflation disproportionately affects the bottom 30% of the Filipino population, hence he said that DSWD needs to ensure their grants retain their purchasing power.

He clarified that the government would not reduce the existing grant amounts; instead, the system will aim to maintain their real value as inflation fluctuates.

"The 4Ps Law sets the minimum amounts, and we won't go below that," he said. "The index-based system is about ensuring the grants stay effective in helping beneficiaries meet their needs."

While no specific timeline was given, Secretary Gatchalian emphasized the urgency of the project.

Aid won't shrink amid inflation

He also assured beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that their assistance will remain unchanged despite the decreasing inflation rate.

Gatchalian emphasized the commitment to maintaining the value of the aid, saying, "No, we never reduce it. It's more about making sure that its value doesn't diminish."

He highlighted the legal framework surrounding the program, saying, "The 4Ps Law is a law, the 4Ps program is a law – it's fixed there until here the amount given."

He emphasized the need for a forward-thinking approach, stating, "It shouldn't need permission from anyone to adjust, instead, it should be incorporated into the law, the self-adjusting mechanism."

Daily Tribune