MANILA, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank on Wednesday said it has approved a 600 million U.S. dollar loan to support the Philippine government's efforts to sustain social protection for the poor and most vulnerable families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
File photo: VCG
The 600 million U.S. dollar loan will be used for a new project named the Philippines Beneficiary FIRST Social Protection Project to provide continuing support to the Philippine government to implement the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a national government plan to provide conditional cash grants to the poorest families.
"These efforts are critical to ensure that the children (of poor families) can remain in school and stay healthy as the country takes measures to control this pandemic. In these difficult times, cash transfers to the poor and vulnerable indirectly support local economies and boost prospects for recovery," said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Diop said the project will support the Philippine government's use of cutting-edge digital technologies and platforms to improve the beneficiary experience in receiving transfers from the government, develop more efficient processes and systems, and enhance targeting mechanisms to maximize equity and impact.
"Global experience shows that countries that have effective government-to-persons payments systems and a coherent approach to social protection beneficiary data management have been very effective in quickly and effectively cushioning the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic," Diop added.
Working with the country's central bank, the World Bank said the project also seeks to accelerate efforts to modernize the Philippine government's payment delivery systems and promote financial literacy among beneficiaries, accelerating financial inclusion in the process.
Yoonyoung Cho, senior economist and the project task team leader of the World Bank said that in addition to 4Ps beneficiaries, modernizing the country's social protection delivery systems will benefit more people enrolled in other social protection programs implemented by the government now and in the future.
Implemented in 145 cities and 1,483 municipalities of the Philippines, the 4Ps has benefitted more than 4 million families or around 20 percent of the country's population, including 8.7 million children.