State subsidies jump at end September

By Chino S. Leyco

Subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) jumped by nearly a quarter in the first nine months of the year owing to state-funded health insurance, irrigation, as well as free fuel cards for jeepney drivers and operators.

Data from the Bureau of the Treasury showed that total funding support to state-owned companies stood at ₱151.5 billion in January to September this year, up by 21 percent compared with ₱124.83 billion in the same period a year ago.

According to the treasury, 80 percent of the total subsidies in the first three-quarters went to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and Land Bank of the Philippines.

At end September, PhilHealth cornered ₱58.9 billion of the national budget to fulfil its mandate of providing all Filipinos with accessible, available, acceptable and affordable healthcare.

NIA, the GOCC in-charge of irrigation development and management, meanwhile, received ₱31.57 billion in budgetary support during the period to help farmers withstand the dry spell that struck the country earlier this year due to the El Niño phenomenon.

On the other hand, the total channelled funds through Land Bank for the distribution of state fuel subsidies to jeepney drivers and operators amounted to ₱30.49 billion during the period.

National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon earlier clarified said that subsidy to Land Bank, the fourth largest lender in the Philippines in terms of assets, was not for its cash operations, but for the pantawid pasada program.

To recall, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board began this year the distribution of the 2019 fuel subsidy amounting to ₱20,514 for every beneficiary.

The remaining balance of end-September state subsidies went to the National Housing Authority with ₱8.28 billion, followed by National Food Authority with ₱4.23 billion, and Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. with ₱3.28 billion.

Other recipients of financial aid were the National Electrification Administration with ₱1.9 billion, Philippine Coconut Authority with ₱1.8 billion, Small Business Corp. with ₱1.5 billion, National Power Corp. with ₱1.25 billion and Sugar Regulatory Administration with ₱1.07 billion.

There were other 33 GOCCs that received less than ₱1 billion in budgetary support from the national government in January to September.