World Bank says 'Bayanihan' laws helped Filipinos during lockdowns

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - AUGUST 08: People hoping to get vaccinated against COVID-19 queue outside a vaccination site on August 08, 2021 in Las Pinas, Metro Manila, Philippines. World Bank
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - AUGUST 08: People hoping to get vaccinated against COVID-19 queue outside a vaccination site on August 08, 2021 in Las Pinas, Metro Manila, Philippines. The World Bank says that the Bayanihan laws that implemented its $500 million loan to the country helped Filipinos during lockdowns, according to its recent report. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

Thanks to the “Bayanihan” stimulus packages of the government, millions of Filipinos who belong to vulnerable households and businesses were rescued out of poverty, but the slow rollout of the cash grant failed to target the poorest of the poor, said the Washington-based multilateral lender World Bank.

“The results suggest that the Bayanihan packages could have had a much greater poverty-reducing impact if social assistance measures were enhanced for better coverage and adequacy, targeting, and delivery,” the World Bank said in a report dated June 15.

The implementation of its $500 million emergency loan to the country for its COVID-19 response through the Bayanihan 1 and 2 was able to cap the country’s poverty rate at 21.9 percent in 2020, which would’ve been at 23.5 percent if no “ayuda” had been given to the people, according to the World Bank’s estimate.

However, it could’ve been lower at 20.3 percent had the government perfected the smooth and efficient distribution of the cash grant, which in turn would give it ability to target the most vulnerable in society.

Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates that the Bayanihan laws were able to cut the country’s poverty rate to 21.2%, instead of 21.5% had there been no cash assistance. If the government was able to efficiently roll out the much-needed cash assistance efficiently, the World Bank said that the poverty rate could’ve been lower at 21.1%.

“Poverty incidence declined by an estimated 1.6 percentage points (ppts) in 2020 due in large part to the SAP. Moreover, poverty could have declined by an additional 1.6 ppts if transfers were efficiently distributed to targeted beneficiaries,” the World Bank added.

Meanwhile, subsidies and other cash assistance given to small businesses through the Department of Finance “was effective in stemming job losses,” the World Bank added.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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