LandBank urged to waive cash aid handling fee

THE Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) was urged to waive handling fees for the distribution of P200 billion cash aid to poor families.

Deputy Speaker and 1PACMAN Rep. Mikee Romero made the call as he reminded the bank that under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Law such fees can be waived.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started distributing the assistance amounting to at least P100 billion this month and another P100 billion next month.

The Land Bank is handling the bulk of the P200 billion and the P101.1 billion allocated in this year’s national budget for the four million beneficiary-households of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps.

Romero said the LDP is the official conduit bank because it has branches throughout the country.

He said for the downloading of the P101.1-billion cash grants to 4Ps beneficiaries this year, the P162-billion DSWD budget includes P509 million in “bank service fees” that will go mostly to Land Bank.

“Based on this amount of bank service fees, we can safely assume that the cost of downloading the P100 billion in financial assistance under the Bayanihan law for this month is in the neighborhood of P500 million,” Romero said.

According to Romero, if Land Bank could waive its service charge only for the Bayanihan cash grants, it would mean that more poor families could be given financial aid.

Romero said the P500 million would benefit an additional 100,000 poor households at P5,000 each.

He said Land Bank can afford to forego its handling fees for the emergency assistance since it would still be able to charge DSWD for the distribution of cash grants under 4Ps for this year.

“Besides, it is a commercial bank and it is making a lot of money from  its commercial operations,” he said.

Romero, who is an economist, noted that the state-owned bank reported net profits of P18 billion last year.

At least 18 million poor families have been targeted as recipients of financial aid of P5,000 to P8,000 each under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.