THE 20-kg monthly rice subsidy for the country’s poorest families may not be doable, not for lack of supplies but because of the problem of delivering the food aid to the intended recipients.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol cited the cost of bringing the rice to the doorsteps of the beneficiaries, especially those living in far flung areas.
The 2017 proposed national budget contains the P23.7 billion rice subsidy for the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4PS), which was promised by President Rodrigo Duterte during the campaign.
To be provided by the National Food Authority (NFA), the 20-kg rice subsidy is on top of the monthly P1,400 dole out for every family.
To date the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has 4 million beneficiaries on the official list of the 4Ps.
During the budget presentation, Piñol told the members of the House committee on appropriations that there is enough rice supply for the enhanced poverty alleviation program.
However, he raised the question of how to deliver the rice to the poor families, especially those living in the hinterlands.
“It would be a logistical nightmare,” Piñol said.
“How would you distribute on a monthly basis the 20 kilos of rice to families living, for example, in Sierra Madre?” he added.
Piñol said under the proposed 2017 budget of the DA, there was no budget for the distribution of the rice to the poor families.
The initiative was also questioned by opposition Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, stressing that it is more helpful for the beneficiaries if the government would just increase the monthly dole out.
According to Erice, the budget to be used for transporting the rice to many parts of the country can just be converted to cash and added to the present P1,400.
He cited a World Bank study on the rice subsidy program for students during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, which revealed that the government spent more for the cost of distribution than the cost of the rice.