DSWD explains Starpay task in ayuda distribution

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
DSWD explains Starpay task in ayuda distribution
Residents of Batasan Hills in Quezon City line up to receive their financial assistance from the government on the second day of distribution on April 8, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Starpay managed to bag a contract to distribute the biggest bulk of the government’s ayuda or pandemic cash assistance because it was one of only two financial service providers (FSP) accredited to perform the task, an official of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said yesterday.

At a virtual press briefing, Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova said the other accredited FSP that can do “mixed” manual and electronic payouts was local bank RCBC.

“They’re the ones that manifested and submitted proposal to handle ‘mixed’ payout – digital payout and manual payout,” Relova said, addressing concerns raised by senators regarding possible irregularity in the contract with Starpay.

Relova recalled that there were four other banks and electronic money issuers or EMIs accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to be payout partners of DSWD for the ayuda distribution –Robinsons Bank, UnionBank, GCash and Paymaya.

She stressed it was the BSP that screened and nominated the FSPs as government partners in the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) payout.

She added the DSWD had equally distributed the SAP fund among the six FSPs.

Some FSPs would later encounter difficulty in distributing the SAP subsidies due to their lack of contact numbers.

“Over time, it was learned, more than 70 percent of the eligible beneficiaries have no telephone numbers,” Relova said in Filipino. These 70 percent, she said, had to be reached via manual payout.

Relova also pointed out that Starpay returned to the DSWD P8.2 billion of the SAP funds because of data quality issues including misspelled names or wrong addresses.

“All of the (SAP) funds given to the FSPs are accounted for and there are no missing funds,” Relova pointed out.

She emphasized the payouts followed existing government accounting rules and procedures.

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