Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Targeted charity for the deserving

It was quite weird to see last night a representative from the Catholic charity organization Caritas criticized the government's Ahon Pamilyang Pinoy program for being, he said, a dole-out to the country's poor. After all, isn't charity, by definition, nothing more than a dole-out?

The government's plan, with DSWD Secretary Cabral as the implementor, is to allocate some fifty billion pesos to be handed out in increments to 300,000 poor families in the poorest provinces as reward for the good school attendance of their children.

What makes this plan good? The government will be able to target its subsidies to the deserving poor. By rewarding school attendance of the children, the government is not so much doling out money as making an added investment on the education of the country's poorest, which has the happy consequence of increasing the country's future productivity. This is an infinitely more effective way to use public money than, say, price supports.

Again, of course, there is the dreaded possibility of scheming thieves in the government running away with the money. But taken in itself, the Ahon Pamilyang Pinoy is a good reasonable plan that could work.

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