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7.4M households to get gov't aid.

To mitigate the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act on the poor, the government this year will release P2,400 each to about 7.4 million households within the first quarter, the Department of Finance said Friday.

Under the TRAIN law, indigent families are entitled to receive P200 a month in unconditional cash transfers.

In a statement, the DOF said 4.4 million households that will receive cash are existing Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries, on top of three million senior citizens who are already receiving their pensions.

'The schedule relayed to the DOF by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) show that 4Ps beneficiaries will receive a top-up to their existing conditional cash transfers (CCTs) in February if they are getting their benefits through ATM (automatic teller machine) cards, and in March if they get these over the counter,' Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said.

Beneficiaries can claim their cash over the counter at cooperatives, rural banks as well as nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

As for the pensioners, they will also begin to get the unconditional cash transfer in March, Chua said.

'The DWSD expects all 10 million beneficiary-households-comprising the poorest 50 percent of the population-to receive their unconditional cash transfers by August,' according to Chua.

The DOF official said another 2.6 million households, who are currently being registered to become beneficiaries of the unconditional cash transfer program under the TRAIN Law, will get their P2,400 in August.

'For 2018, the government has allocated P25.67 billion for unconditional cash transfers under the General Appropriations Act to help low-income households cope with the slight inflationary impact of the TRAIN. Of the P25.67 billion, P24.49 billion is under the account of Land Bank of the Philippines, which will distribute the unconditional cash transfers nationwide via ATM card transfers, over the counter or through conduit systems such as rural banks, NGOs and cooperatives. The remaining P1.18 billion has been allocated to cover the administrative costs of implementing this social protection program,' the DOF said.

Next year and in 2020, the cash transfer will be increased to P300 a month or P3,600 for the entire year.

Signed by President Duterte in December, the TRAIN law starting Jan. 1 this year jacked up or slapped new excise taxes on oil, cigarettes, sugary drinks and vehicles, among other goods, to compensate for the restructured personal income tax regime that raised the tax-exempt cap to an annual salary of P250,000.

According to Chua, 'the DOF, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Economic and Development Authority estimate inflation to increase by just 0.4-0.7 percentage point during the first year of TRAIN's implementation, with the impact tapering off over time.'

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 24, 2018
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