El Niño roadmap funding up for Cabinet discussion

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A road map detailing El Niño-mitigation measures will be tackled by the Cabinet today, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said, with a focus on finalizing the amounts needed to address an ongoing dry spell.

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“Tomorrow (today), the Cabinet … will hold a meeting to finalize the numbers,” Balisacan told reporters on Tuesday.

“Last time we met with the President, he wanted to assure that the drafted activities would be carried out by the agencies … they should make sure that they can mobilize those funds,” he added.

“Our problem is underspending, so [today’s discussions should] … assure us that the funds allotted will be used for intended purposes, and to address the negative effects [of El Niño],” he added.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is leading work on the “Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Nino,” which will detail interventions such as crop and/or work substitution programs.

Balisacan, the NEDA director general, said the Cabinet would examine whether funding should go higher than the estimated P19.2 billion.

Nothing will be final until President Benigno Aquino 3rd approves, he added. Aquino will likely be briefed after next week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit ends, Balisacan said.

He noted that agriculture sector setbacks during the third and fourth quarters would affect second semester economic expansion. Full-year gross domestic product growth, however, is still expected to hit a “still very remarkable” 6 percent to 6.5 percent.

“If you could see the numbers of our [Southeast Asian] neighbors, they’re all down.

Indonesia is about 4.7 percent, and Malaysia is lower. They’re all down. If we hit 6 percent, that is still very remarkable; we’re still one of the fastest growing economies,” Balisacan said.

The government has targeted 7 percent to 8 percent growth for 2015.

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