The funding requirement for rehabilitation of Yolanda-stricken areas has dropped to P106 billion from P361 billion ($8.1 million), given the amount of assistance that has been extended by local and foreign sources so far, Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
At the Philippine Economic Briefing on Tuesday, Lacson said the combined relief, rehabilitation and action plan of the public and private sector as well as multilaterals, bilateral and other donor institutions account for the reduction in the required funding for rehabilitation of the affected areas.
“A substantial portion” of the reduction in the assessed damage was been “attributed to the private sector and even multilaterals and bilaterals who also did their own rehabilitation efforts in the area,” Lacson said.
Lacson, also known in the country as the recovery and rehabilitation czar, added that the government is now drafting the “master plan for rehabilitation.” The previous rehabilitation plan was known as the Rehabilitation Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan.
The master plan will be presented to President Benigno Aquino 3rd in two weeks’ time, he said. He could not be reached for further comment on the content of the master plan after the briefing.
But Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a text message that the country’s economic managers, as well as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), are “examining the sources of the difference in the estimates” of funding.
Lacson had said the government was also putting up a new website for the donors to see the flow and utilization of Yolanda funds and aid, which would be different from the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website which listed the collated amount of foreign aid and loans, either financial or in kind.
“[We are] empowering [local government units]and informing them of the hazards to be prepared for disasters and at the same time be engaged with the private sector . . . Anticipating the gap, right after the Yolanda [destruction], we already did what needed to be done in the LGUs (local government units) and invest in the private sector,” Lacson said
Collection of economic outlook for the country indicated that the Philippines’ loss of business activities and livelihood from Yolanda would be replaced by increased spending on the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Visayas area, which is expected to be one of the major drivers of gross domestic product growth (GDP) for the year.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said that including the Yolanda reconstruction, infrastructure spending will rise to P404.3 billion this year, constituting 3.1 percent of the GDP, while 2015 infrastructure spending is seen growing to an equivalent of 4 percent of GDP to P578 billion and 2016 spending to 5.1 percent of GDP.
Meanwhile, about P30 billion out of the P200 billion 2014 reconstruction fund for Super Typhoon Yolanda-stricken areas have been used for rehabilitation work during the first two months of the year as the government pushed its drive for increased utilization of funds for infrastructure development.
Abad said the P30 billion was used in January and February, focusing on the reconstruction of communities in the Yolanda-hit areas.
The P200 billion fund for rehabilitation consisted of P20 billion from the official development assistance (ODA) loans extended by multilaterals such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency; P80 billion unprogrammed funds; P80 billion from the realignment of lawmakers’ pork barrel funds; and P20 billion from the 2014 General Appropriations Act.
The P200-billion Yolanda reconstruction fund for 2014 is included in the P404.3-billion infrastructure budget for the entire year, based on the 2014 National Budget.