• Extra budget available for ‘Yolanda’ reconstruction

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    The budget cabinet Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) announced on Thursday that the allotted budget for super typhoon Yolanda operations was at P100 billion as P20 billion had been placed to program expenditures and P80 billion in unprogrammed plans.

    Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters after the DBCC 2014 proposed national budget meeting that the P100 billion for 2014 Yolanda reconstruction would be additional to the P34.5 billion for disbursement this year.

    The budget secretary added that aside from the reconstruction funds coming from the national budgets, the President is still bound to sign the supplemental budget proposed by the Congress totaling to P14.6 billion for the programs and actions listed in the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan.

    Besides government budget, the Abad cited that there will be an “increase” in Yolanda funds as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) offered additional amounts to Yolanda assistance that would total to $1.05 billion, near $1 billion and $500 million, respectively.

    “We are confident that with the commitments made by [ADB] and the World Bank, we should be able to cover with the proceeds from this very concessional loans,” Abad said.

    Abad and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said that the development partners, bilateral and multilaterals would still assess the help that they would offer in accordance to the presentation of RAY plan on Wednesday.

    “The response was very good because their seeing the government acting in this with urgency so they think that the possibility of increasing support is very good,” Abad said.

    Balisacan, who is also the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general, said that they are still looking for other sources of loans best for the recovery and reconstruction, as they prefer “highly concessional loans” with long grace periods.

    The NEDA chief also said that they are pushing for the infrastructure spending to reach 5-percent share of the GDP within the president’s term.

    As of today, infrastructure investments in country amounted to 3.2 percent, but it “can go higher” as there would be increased construction in wake of the Yolanda reconstruction and recovery in the Visayas region.

    On Wednesday, the NEDA said that the total recovery and reconstruction costs of Yolanda would total to P361 billion, or $8.2 million as per the RAY plan.

    The RAY listed that the P361-billion fund would be distributed to the building of shelters and resettlement areas (P183.3 billion), construction and repair of public infrastructure (P28.4 billion) health and education services (P37.4 billion), support to the agriculture sector (P18.7 billion), industry and services (P70.6 billion), local government (P4 billion) and social protection (P18.4 billion).

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