Unprogrammed budget eyed to fund Marawi rehab
Part of unprogrammed funds in this year’s national budget may finance the rebuilding of Marawi, a Muslim-majority city that was destroyed in last year’s fighting between government forces and Islamic State supporters.
Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Duterte administration was looking into tapping the unprogrammed funds in the 2018 national budget for rebuilding efforts in Marawi.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson considers unprogrammed or lump-sum appropriation pork, which finance pet projects of lawmakers and generate kickbacks for them.
Navarro told reporters last week that the administration “can unlock” P2.4 billion out of an about P5-billion unprogrammed budget to support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the most affected areas (MAA).
“Our bigger concern now is how to fund the projects in the MAA,” Navarro said.
The Neda official said the final budgetary requirement to rehabilitate Marawi’s ground zero would be finalized once the implementing agencies belonging to Task Force Bangon Marawi submitted their respective assessments.
So far, financing to rebuild the MAA would come from the national budget after negotiations with a consortium of Filipino and Chinese companies, which were supposed to jumpstart the rehabilitation, failed.
Moving forward, the administration may have the option to tap other modes of financing, although it would stick to using the national budget to fund projects in Marawi in the meantime, Navarro said.
Early this month, the government got P35.1 billion in pledges—P32.7 billion in concessional loans and P2.4 billion worth of grants—for Marawi’s rehabilitation and reconstruction.
These commitments, however, would be spent in areas outside ground zero and covered by the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP).
Last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the pledges would start to pour in before yearend or early next year.
Dominguez also said the Bureau of the Treasury was studying the “exact timing” of the issuance of about P13 billion in “Marawi bonds.”
“We still have the budget in place and actually, we have until 2022 to complete the funding. So we will review the pledges that we got and see the exact timing of them so that we can time the Marawi bonds as well,” Dominguez said in a statement.
The Marawi bonds are to be issued in tranches over several years.
The BMCRRP already requires P47.2 billion. The entire Marawi City would entail a larger financing requirement of P72.6 billion during the next five years.
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