Govt has no money for elderly

THE government could only fork out P871 million next year out of the P7 billion required annual funding for the P500 monthly pension of the country’s elderly as provided in the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Aside from this, only those 80 years old and above are qualified to avail of the pension in 2011, or about 145,150 senior citizens as against the estimated 4.1 million elderly who are 60 years and above as mandated by the law.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said due to difficulty in revenues, the government only chose to provide P871 million in next year’s national budget for the law’s implementation and likewise raise the age requirement to 80 years old and above.

Previous estimates by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) put the required funding at P7 billion per year to be able to deliver the P500 monthly pension to the broadest number of senior citizens.

“Despite our budget difficulty, we still allocated an amount as our symbolic concern for the elderly,” Abad said.

He said the government was actually eyeing to include a million of the elderly in the P500 monthly pension program, which is the estimated number of the indigent seniors, but could only manage to cover a little over 10 percent of them.

He added the government decided against allocating the full P7 billion under the 2011 outlay so as not to bloat further next year’s programmed deficit of P293 billion.

Abad said the allocation could still be adjusted within next year “if fiscal position allows it.”

He said the budget allocation could be supplemented within next year to bring the total coverage to one million elderly and benefit  the 60 years and above bracket.

“If the fiscal position next year allows it, why not? We could supplement it within next year,” he said.

Abad said for next year, only senior citizens who are 80 years and above are entitled to the monthly pension to take advantage of their twilight years.

The P500 monthly pension was among the additional features of the Senior Citizens law as amended aside from exempting the purchases of the elderly that are covered by the 20 percent discount from the 12 percent value added tax (VAT).  Dino Ng

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