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Smart, NATCCO, local coops disburse DSWD conditional cash grants in Eastern Visayas

by SMART Public Affairs | Feb 14, 2014
[14 February 2014] Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) through its mobile financial services subsidiary Smart e-Money, Inc. (SMI) has disbursed the conditional cash grants of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to close to 6,000 subsidiaries in Leyte and Samar in a pilot payout held early this month.

Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) through its mobile financial services subsidiary Smart e-Money, Inc. (SMI) has disbursed the conditional cash grants of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to close to 6,000 subsidiaries in Leyte and Samar in a pilot payout held early this month.

The cash grants were distributed to beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.  Families under the CCT program that have complied with DSWD's requirements receive P500 in health assistance and P300 in educational aid for every child (maximum of three children per family) enrolled in school, and has passed the required attendance threshold of at least 85 percent in school.

The Pantawid is a long-term social development strategy of the Philippine government that invests in the health and education of children from poor households, particularly those aged 0-14 years old.

SMI did a pilot payout caravan from February 4 to 7 in the towns of Caibiran in Biliran, San Ricardo in Southern Leyte, Lavezares in Northern Samar, and Dolores in Eastern Samar covering close to 6,000 CCT beneficiaries eligible to receive cash grants.

The pilot payout is part of the requirements set by the DSWD prior to actual award of the project to SMI, which tendered the best offer in the recent bidding conducted by the government agency.

“This is the first time that we have participated in this program. We are honored to be the government’s strategic partner in making sure that funds are distributed securely and conveniently to CCT beneficiaries.  At the same time, we want to help complement other government programs aimed at intensifying financial inclusion through innovative technology,” said Orlando Vea, SMI president and CEO and Smart chief wireless advisor.

“The successful conduct of the pilot payout will help build public trust on Smart e-Money’s capability to disburse cash grants to DSWD beneficiaries. We were told that it was the quickest cash grant disbursement thus far where over 2,800 beneficiaries on February 7 in Dolores, Eastern Samar were processed in about four hours. Actual account reconciliation and reporting were done also on the same day with DSWD regional officials,” added Lito Villanueva, SMI head for innovation, ecosystem build and global engagements.

SMI worked with member-cooperatives of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATTCO), its on-ground payment partner for this project.

During Smart’s pilot test held last February 4, DSWD Biliran Provincial Officer Susana Rostata noted:  “The release and distribution of funds to the CCT beneficiaries were orderly due to the competent personnel involved in the processing.”

Staff from NATTCO member-cooperatives assisted SMI in paying out 1,066 individuals in Biliran during the first leg of the caravan held February 4.  Immediate account reconciliation was done and subsequent DSWD certification was issued before 3pm of the same day.  Total payout amount for the area was P2.5 million.

The following day, a total of 588 beneficiaries in San Ricardo received their cash grants for a total payout amount of P1.2 million.  In Lavezares, 1,159 beneficiaries with total payout of P2.5 million were processed.  For the last leg in Dolores, beneficiaries that received their cash grants numbered 2,824 with total amount of P6.3 million.  All told, some 5,637 grantees were processed in four days with total payout amount of P12.6 million.

“We will mobilize our member-cooperatives across the country to make sure the cash grants are disbursed fast and easy,” said Sylvia Paraguya, Natcco chief executive said.  Parugaya cited Metro Ormoc Community Cooperative, a member of NATTCO, which has more than 40 offices in the various towns in Eastern Visayas, and Northern Samar Development Workers Community Cooperative, which assisted in the Lavezares payout.

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman had earlier stressed that the program keeps the country on track with its goal of inclusive growth, “meaning that by the time that the Philippines feels the full impact of economic progress, these children would at least be able to read and write.”

When interviewed, most beneficiaries on site shared the positive impact the program has brought to their lives. Aside from utilizing the cash for petty household and school expenses, recipients with acumen for entrepreneurship have also started to launch their own little businesses out of the cash assistance they are receiving once every two months.

Nakabulig gyud sa among kapurian po kining 4Ps. Hinaot nga magpadayon kini kay dako gyud ning tabang sa mga pobre (The program has given us at least a little relief. We hope the program continues to help poor Filipinos like us),” said 26-year-old beneficiary housewife Concepcion Verutiao.

Using its Smart Money mobile platform, SEMI has been aggressively pursuing partnerships with the government as well as international humanitarian agencies for the quick, secure and cheaper disbursement of cash grants meant to help assist the financially-vulnerable segments of the country’s population.