Solon wants hike in social-pension budget to cover more seniors

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker representing senior citizens has urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to increase the coverage of its social-pension program to save impoverished elderly from the effects of the 5.2-percent inflation rate.

Senior Citizen Rep. Milagros Aquino-Magsaysay said the original coverage of 3.8 million social pension indigent recipients and the corresponding budget of P23.4 billion for 2018 would not be enough to cover indigent senior citizens grappling with the rising inflation.

“I ask the DSWD to revisit its social pension coverage in their draft budget for 2019. Given the current economic shifts, I strongly believe the DSWD must consider new and realistic numbers since the current numbers of indigent elderly may have been underestimated,” Magsaysay said.

The lawmaker also said the DSWD should ensure the implementation of the social-pension payout is more expedient and efficient.

“Given the urgency of the economic situation, the social pension, despite its small amount, could be the only form of income security our indigent elderlies have to weather the impacts of consumer inflation,” she said.

Bohol Rep. Arthur C. Yap said cash transfers to vulnerable sectors must be increased.

Yap noted if releases are to be made conditional, they must be conditioned on skills training for beneficiaries in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

He also called on Congress to expedite the passage of the Rice Tariffication Act allowing the National Food Authority (NFA) to monopolize rice importation.

“Our people need the breathing spell to contend with the high prices of rice brought about by the lack of NFA buffer stocks and the weak peso. The NFA needs the assistance of the private sector through private importations to stabilize rice prices,” Yap said.

He said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas should act decisively to increase rates to stabilize the situation.

“The increase in rates will mop up the market’s excess liquidity that may possibly rein in runaway prices and stave off further weakening of the peso,” Yap said.

The actual inflation rate in June exceeded the government’s outlook as it stood at 5.2 percent, a record high in more than five years.

Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on July 5 showed that price pressures accelerated faster than May 2018’s rate of 4.6 percent.

“It was primarily brought about by higher annual rate posted in the heavily weighted food and nonalcoholic beverages index at 6.1 percent,” the PSA said.

The food items index went up to 5.8 percent in June, mainly contributed by higher prices of corn with an inflation rate of 14.1 percent; vegetables, 8.6 percent; meat, 5 percent; and rice, 4.7 percent.

Other contributors to higher inflation last month were alcoholic beverages and tobacco, which rose 20.8 percent; transport, up 7.1 percent; and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, up 4.6 percent.


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