Thursday, June 12, 2008

[kgma] VAT-funded programs bring benefits to the poor

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Cabinet to immediately
roll-out programs to be financed by P4 billion proceeds from the value
added tax (VAT), during the meeting of the NEDA Cabinet Group with the
National Food and Energy Council and the National Price Coordinating
Council held yesterday at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral is to
completely implement within the month the Katas ng VAT â€" Pantawid
Koryente Project, a one-time cash subsidy of P500 to be for households
consuming no more than 100kWh a month. An estimated 4 million (4M)
beneficiaries will benefit from the program nationwide.

In the Meralco franchise area encompassing Regions 3 and 4-A and Metro
Manila, beneficiaries are trooping to hundreds of Land Bank branches
to get the cash assistance. In addition, DSWD and Land Bank personnel,
including Sec. Cabral, will go to poor areas to distribute cash. On
June 12, she will give coupons to Payatas residents, along with cash
assistance cards in celebration of the 110th Independence Day.

Commission on Higher Education Secretary Romulo Neri reported on CHED
scholarship and student loans programs, now augmented by P1 billion
from oil VAT. Sec. Neri counted 8,300 scholarship grants amounting to
P500 million, under the Scholarship Grant for Intelligent Pupils
(SaGIP), for poor students in four- or five-year courses.

Of the half-billion in grants, P300 million is for agricultural
courses such as Fisheries, Agri-Business, Forestry, Environment and
Veterinary Medicine. The remaining P200 million goes to other priority
courses such as Math, Science, Engineering, Education and Maritime.
Each grantee gets P15,000 annually.

Secretary Neri said another P500 million will reactivate the Student
Assistance Fund for Education for a Strong Republic (SAFE 4 SR), with
62,500 new slots for tuition loans nationwide. A needy student in his
third, fourth or fifth year can borrow as much as P8,000 per semester
interest-free, administered by participating colleges and universities.

The remaining P1 billion of the P4 billion VAT funds will be lent out
for the conversion of jeepney engines from diesel to cheaper LPG, and
the replacement of incandescent bulbs with more economical compact
fluorescent lighting, for electricity savings of as much as 85%.

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