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Food stamp program to start by first quarter 2024: DSWD

[ 536 words|2023.5.24|英字 (English) ]

A food stamp program, which aims to address hunger and poverty in the country, is set to start by the first quarter of next year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalilan revealed that the agency will have a food augmentation program called Walang Gutom 2027 which will target one million Filipino families who belong to the lowest income bracket.

Gatchalian said the food stamp program is still in the “design stage” but will be having a trial run by July until December.

“Now, July to December will be the pilot run for those regions that we’ve identified. We actually have the municipalities but we just want to vet them properly,” he said at a Palace briefing.

He said the program seeks to provide electronic benefit transfers that will be loaded with food credits amounting to P3,000 to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD-accredited local retailers.

“Yeah. Well, first things first, we are in the design stage ? as we speak right now, we have a first draft of the design and we will spend the remaining months of May and June in the design stage. We all know that the devil will be in the details and we have hired multiple consultants in the department to take a second look at what’s being designed so that there is a check and balance,” Gatchalian said.

“And then we have to also work with the economic team on trying to package the economic side of it or the financing side of it. So hopefully, next year we get to do the run, the actual run ? early part, first quarter of next year,” he said.

Gatchalian said the DSWD is working with World Food Program and Asian Development Bank (ADB) in launching the program.

“What’s happening right now is we are working with the World Food Program which has vast technical expertise when it comes to running food stamps programs worldwide. And then the ADB was kind enough to provide close to $3 million for the six months pilot that will run in the middle part of this year towards the latter part of this year,” he said.

“We’ve identified five pilot sites coming from different geopolitical characteristics we have a site in the BARMM area, what used to be a former conflict area. Two, geographically isolated regions or provinces. Three, in urban poor settings. Four, and four will be calamity-driven or stricken areas, and the fifth will be rural poor. So we have to make sure that the context of the program will be designed appropriately for each area,” he added.

“So the remainder part of the six months is fully funded by grants from the ADB that’s why the President opened it yesterday in ADB and we are thankful, the DSWD is very thankful to the technical support and grant support that the ADB has extended to us,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian said that the food stamp program is estimated to amount to P40 billion including administrative costs.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier mentioned that ADB plans to assist the country in rolling out the food stamp program. Jaspearl Tan/DMS