Three more provinces benefit from Australia's Road Management Fund

February 19, 2012 11:26 am 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Feb. 17 — Provincial roads of the provinces of Aklan, Davao del Norte and Lanao del Norte are the three latest recipients of Australia’s road management aid, with the launching on Thursday of the “Provincial Road Management Facility” by Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell and Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.

The Australian Embassy in Manila said the three were extended assistance following "some results" shown by seven partner-provinces who were the earlier beneficiaries. (((( The program started in Bohol, Guimaras, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Misamis Occidental.

The five-year, P4.3-billion (Aus$ 100 million) assistance helps provincial governments upgrade and then maintain their core road network in provinces in Mindanao and the Visayas.

The program started in seven partner provinces of Bohol, Guimaras, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Misamis Occidental. After showing some results, Australia decided to extend the program to the three provinces, according to the embassy.

“In partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and provincial governments, Australia is working to improve the quality of roads across the country. Roads upgraded by the program are cutting transportation costs and increasing access of poor Filipinos to basic services, such as schools and health clinics,” Ambassador Tweddell said at the launching.

“Australia’s use of incentives aligns strongly with President Aquino’s performance-based approach to fast-track local governance reforms. Our partner provinces are building momentum and introducing good governance reforms. They are increasing their revenues to fund essential services to the poor. Their budgets are more transparent and allow for easier expenditure tracking,” the ambassador added.

A large portion of the program’s funds will be for road rehabilitation and maintenance in the provinces, but the program is also supporting local governance reforms to improve the quality and efficiency of public service delivery to communities.

Provinces compete for extra resources through the program’s incentive mechanism by progressing reforms in the key governance areas of planning and budgeting, procurement, internal audit, human resource development and increasing locally-generated revenues.

“Good governance practices are critical to sustain service delivery, including quality roads. The program aims to ensure each province can sustain the reforms without ongoing Australian assistance.”

The Facility has so far completed 14 road rehabilitation projects, benefitting at least 51,000 people and delivering material economic and social benefits to the communities. There have also been improvements on how the partner provinces do their business, including: implementing their provincial plans with appropriate resources; rationalizing their human resource management and development plans; exercising internal control and audit procedures; contracting out road service delivery using their own resources and generated higher local revenue; and even increasing community participation in road rehabilitation and maintenance.

The embassy reported that in the current financial year, Australia will provide over P5 billion in development assistance to the Philippines, focusing on economic growth, basic education, and national stability and human security.

Also present on Thursday were the governors of the program’s 10 partner provinces: Adolph Edward Plaza (Agusan del Sur), Carlito Marquez (Aklan), Edgar Chatto (Bohol), Alex Calingasan (Bukidnon), Rodolfo del Rosario (Davao del Norte), Felipe Hilan Nava (Guimaras), Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte), Herminia Ramiro (Misamis Occidental), Oscar Moreno (Misamis Oriental), and Sol Matugas (Surigao del Norte).

Australia is a long-standing development partner of the Philippines and the latter’s largest bilateral grant aid donor. (PNA) scs/GJB

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