Abad: Not all foreign loan, aid for Yolanda have reached govt

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Budget Secretary Florencio Abad clarified that the total of P23.8-billion foreign loans recorded for Typhoon Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation was not entirely in the hands of the government.

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According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) where total amounts of pledges were listed, the total foreign aid registered as of press time amounted to P23.79 billion ($538.9 million) which accounts for P2.8 billion ($63.4 million) cash pledge and P20.9 billion ($475.56 million) non-cash or in-kind aid.

Based on the same portal, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recorded that the government received only P592.5 million ($12.3 million) as of yearend, compared to the total P2.8-billion cash pledge as pointed out by the budget chief.

Abad said that there is a “big disparity” in the pledged amounts at the height of relief operations before the end of 2013, than what was the actual flow of cash delivered.

“I think many of them, had to be here to make those statements so that they can influence their principals back home because you have to show the situation here,” Abad said.

The budget secretary also cleared that the pledges came “at the end of the year,” which would result to them entirely committed in 2013 alone. He also mentioned that fund raising activities would have to be done to fill the committed funds in 2013 so that new funds would be available to bridge the disparity in amounts.

“What we need to clarify, is that people expect the government to have the [amounts of]money that you read in newspapers. We do not have those moneys yet,” Abad said.

Abad also mentioned that in terms of concessional loans with very low interest rates by multilateral organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), their loans need to undergo “certain processes” and approvals for the funds to be fully utilized by the government.

Abad said that consolidated loan offers from ADB and WB amount to $1.85 billion (about P83.25 billion), and are already undergoing their respective processes as of press time.

He also said that JICA had earlier pledged $500 million (about P22.5 billion) for Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation, but haven’t confirmed when JICA will process the funds.

Other bilaterals like the United States, Canada and Australia among others and UN organization-donors did donate and offered aid, but Abad said that it did not go directly to the government. Instead, these entities conducted their relief and reconstruction operations on the ground in the affected areas of the super typhoon.

“As of now, we have P30 billion from last year’s funds, P20 billion from 2014 GAA [General Appropriations Act], [which is]P50 billion from our own funds,” Abad said.

“[Also, we have] P80 billion from the Unprogrammed funds which would be funded by loan proceeds,” the budget chief added, citing the Unprogrammed funds to be covered by WB and ADB loans which are ongoing their respective processes.

“Loans will directly go to government but certain bilaterals do not go directly to government… Not everything [goes to government]so some do themselves. Strictly, we only account the bilateral that go to [the Department of Foreign Affaird], and multilaterals that go to Treasury or [Department of Finance],” he added.

Abad pressed that the total P2.8-billion cash pledges at the FAiTH portal do not include other cash donations from bilateral, multilaterals, donors and organizations that do not go directly to government, and have their own operations in Visayas.

For Yolanda operations, the government is following the P361-billion Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan which serves as blueprint for immediate, short, medium and long term actions for Visayas reconstruction and restoration until 2016.

Kristyn Nika M. Lazo

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