Press Releases

Salceda seeks digitalization of social benefits amid long queues for DSWD student aid; House tax chair says social benefits head Tulfo “enthusiastic” about internal reforms, sees 2023 budget as opportunity for digital transformation of agencies

August 21st, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has renewed his call for a national single window for tax and social benefits, as long lines for student aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) plagued the agency’s offices this week.

“The solution, structurally, is to simplify our processes, provide for instant validation, and digitalize recording and distribution. That’s how it was done in the experimental Small Business Wage Subsidy during the pandemic. That was the best-practice for the Philippine government so far,” Salceda said, referring to the subsidy program he first proposed in April 2020 and which was implemented by the Department of Finance later the same year.

“And, as soon as the National ID becomes the main ID for all Filipinos, we can use it as the single individual account for all social benefits and payments of taxes, fees, and charges.” Salceda added.

The House tax chair also called upon the Department of Social Welfare and Development to form a “digital transformation and user experience unit,” composed of data scientists, process engineers, and digitalization experts to digitize its records, upgrade its client service, and minimize leakages in distributing its social welfare programs.

“I was among the strongest proponents of digitalization in the BIR and BOC, since I filed the Tax Administration Reform Act, or TARA, which later became the Ease of Paying Taxes Act. As a result of our collaboration to digitalize the revenue agencies, more than 90% of customs client services are now digital, and 99% of tax returns are now filed online,” Salceda said.

Salceda adds that he will push for a special provision in the 2023 budget that will allow the DSWD to access funds for digitalizing and optimizing its main benefits programs.

“I will be inserting in the 2023 budget a special provision mandating and allowing the DSWD to undertake a digital transformation program in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on the money transfer side. The expenses can be drawn from the administration fees or personnel services for the different social welfare programs,” Salceda said.

“In fact, for all agencies that administer social benefits, including the Department of Agriculture, we might be able to make similar provisions.”

Tulfo ‘enthusiastic’ about digital reforms; House tax chair asks agencies ‘to help out DSWD’

Salceda also said that Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo is “enthusiastic about doing internal reforms in the DSWD and wants to learn from everybody.”

“Secretary Tulfo has asked me for advice on how to improve processes and the overall strategy of his agency. I am calling on the whole of government to help DSWD out, because right now, whenever there is a problem that has a social benefits component, we just pass it on to DSWD without helping it out with capacities,” Salceda said.

“I am calling on everyone, government agencies, let’s help DSWD out. The most crucial agencies here would be the DICT, the social benefits agencies like SSS and Philhealth when it comes to sharing their databases, the Philippine Statistics Authority for national ID and targeting, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for payments systems. Let’s come together and see what we can do to help Secretary Tulfo out.”

“PBBM has very serious SONA instructions to the DSWD about its logistics and distribution functions. We should help them get that job done. Especially since the DSWD has some of the most important functions for our people. Team Philippines principle: the success or failure of one agency is the success or failure of the whole government.”

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