Sorting Out State Subsidies

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Public sector subsidies (e.g. direct public financing of certain activities or sectors in the economy) are among the key interventions to accomplish public policy goals, including boosting social safety nets for vulnerable groups, empowering different sectors to become much more resilient to climatic shocks and competition, and enhancing the country’s agricultural development and industrialization prospects. The effectiveness of subsidies depend critically, not just on where they are deployed, but also how they are applied. Two sets of support programs — the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for poor mothers and children and the various agricultural support programs and subsidies — offer useful insights in this regard. This paper briefly reviews the evidence and lessons from these subsidy programs.