MANILA — The government is allocating some P9.3 billion in cash assistance for the most vulnerable sectors under the Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program after inflation exceeded expectations and hit 8.7 percent in January.
“Right now we are considering a two-month subsidy for consumers. This will be a continuation of the TCT,” finance chief Benjamin Diokno told reporters on the sidelines of the Annual Reception for the Banking Community late Friday night.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) implements the TCT. Each recipient will receive P1,000 or P500 each month.
Diokno did not say when the program will officially begin.
“It will be announced soon but I think that will be fast. We have already identified the funding source and we are just waiting for the announcement from the Palace,” Diokno said.
“It will cover the poorest of the poor beneficiaries, on top of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program),” he added.
The latest round of targeted subsidies to affected sectors aims to cushion the impact of heavier inflationary pressures.
Inflation accelerated to a fresh 14-year high of 8.7 percent in January, effectively exceeding the 7.5 to 8.3 percent forecast of the central bank.
Asked whether the extension of the TCT would be the last subsidy from the government amid rising inflation, Diokno sounded uncertain.
“There’s no last or never. We might still need it so we cannot say if it’s really the last or whether we will still continue,” Diokno said.
Last month, the government concluded its P500 cash aid for low-income households impacted by the continued increase in commodity prices, with a total of P18.3 billion in subsidies released.
Initiated by the Duterte administration, the program granted cash aid amounting to P500 per month for six months to poor households identified by the DSWD.
It was meant to cushion the effects of the increase in the prices of fuel and other non-fuel commodities on vulnerable groups.
The program expired last Dec. 31 with the last payout of obligated subsidies distributed from Jan. 4 to 14.
The two-month extension could also be a signal that the economic team is expecting inflation to start cooling down by the second quarter of the year.
Diokno said the February inflation print could still be at around the same level as last month before dropping by around April.