P10-B fund for disaster reconstruction now ready

May 27, 2010 8:36 pm 

MANILA, May 27 — The government may now allocate for use in disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation projects un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget following the approval of borrowings from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the World Bank (WB) that will form part of the additional revenues required in the budget law.

Presidential Spokesman Secretary Ricardo Saludo said on Thursday during a Malacañang press briefing that the foreign funding commitments that will come in the form of soft or concessional loans will now “unlock” un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget for use in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure, flood control and other facilities and services as the country recovers from the destruction for the past two years caused by storms Frank, Ondoy and Pepeng.

Saludo, who is also secretary general of the Special National Public-Private Reconstruction Commission (SNPPRC) created by President Arroyo, said JICA released last month P3.5 billion in concessional loans and the World Bank board approved last week another 8 million also with soft terms, to assist the Philippine reconstruction efforts.

“These foreign loans will help us unlock the un-programmed funds in the 2010 budget so we can push ahead with our reconstruction and rehabilitation programs and in the process prepare the country for the coming rainy season,” said Saludo

In the 2010 General Appropriation Act, Congress offered the un-programmed funds for reconstruction on the condition that the government must put up additional revenues which could include domestic and foreign borrowings.

Saludo said the SNPPRC, in partnership with the private sector–led Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), headed by Manuel Pangilinan, have already spent P8 billion for reconstruction and recovery, coming from the realigned budgets of several agencies pending the release of the 2010 budget for reconstruction.

“We are grateful to some of the agencies which have realigned some of their funds to get the reconstruction and recovery programs going even before the actual funds in the budget are released,” Saludo said.

Just recently, some P600 million were released for typhoon Frank projects in Panay Islands. Again, these are funds that are not yet part of the reconstruction budget allocation. These came from existing budgets that could be used for reconstruction.

The borrowings from JICA will be for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the reconstruction of infrastructure (roads, bridges and others) and upgrading of flood control systems. ‘We need to prepare these flood control systems for the coming rains this July,” Saludo said.

Finally, he said that the P8-million loan from the World Bank will also “help us use the un-programmed funds in the budget.”

Agencies deemed to be given funds from the P10 billion reconstruction funds are Department of Education (DepED) for classroom reconstruction; Department of Health (DoH) for hospital rehabilitation; more infrastructure and flood control works for the DPWH; relocation of evacuees and people living along waterways for the National Housing Authority (NHA) and, finally, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its continued recovery assistance to flood victims and shelter assistance for those who lost their houses.

The 2011 budget also contained provisions for additional reconstruction funds as indicated in a national budget call last May 17 and Item 2.3 of the National Budget Memorandum which specifies: “recovery and reconstruction projects with the objective of building back better and implement quality improvements, disaster resilience and climate change adaptation given the damage and losses inflicted by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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