By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called for the faster distribution of unconditional cash grants to poor Filipinos reeling from rising prices of goods due to inflation.
In her weekly radio show, “BISErbisyong Leni,” Robredo said it is high time for the government to hasten the release of cash transfer of P200 per month to cushion the impact of inflation.
“Umaasa tayo sa pamahalaan sa lalong madaling panahon hanapan ng paraan lalong lalo na ‘yun tulong na unconditional cash transfer. Sana ‘yun target na 8 million na hindi pa nabibigay until now mabigay na as soon as possible,” she said.
(We are hoping the government at the soonest time will find a way, especially on the aid from unconditional cash transfer. I hope for the targeted 8 million that has not been released will be given to them as soon as possible.)
The unconditional cash transfer is a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development to help poorest families to cope from the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
For this year, each beneficiary will receive P200 per month. The subsidy will increase to P300 monthly in 2019 and 2020.
Aside from the cash transfer, the Vice President also hoped the government would work on fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pampasada program.
Robredo, a former housing chief, wants the speedy release of unconditional cash grants and fuel subsidy in response to the country’s inflation rate on-year that jumped by 5.2 percent last month, the highest in the last five years.
The high inflation is due to faster price increases in food, fuel and transport, as well as external actors, such as world oil prices, peso depreciation, and prices of rice.
With consumer prices rising, the Vice President advised Filipinos that they should undertake more belt-tightening.
“Iyong hindi naman kailangan na mga bagay, huwag pagkagastusan (Don’t spend on things that are not needed),” she said.
The Vice President made the suggestion after JC Punongbayan, a teaching fellow in the University of the Philippines School of Economics, said that high inflation rate is seen to continue until the third quarter of the year.
Punongbayan was a guest in Robredo’s radio program on Sunday.
He said that the cash transfers of P200 per family per month may not be enough.