Marawi rehab funds to expire soon amid rise in autonomous region poverty
Funds allotted to rebuild war-torn Marawi City in 2018 are to be locked up and expire in a month as bulk of these remained unreleased even as they could have helped alleviate poverty in the new autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on Friday, Dec. 6, admitted that delays in carrying out a rebuilding of Marawi City were partly to blame for the slight increase in poverty rate in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, now Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in 2018.
New data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that of P5.1 billion funds earmarked for the Marawi Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program (MRRRP) in the 2018 national budget, only P871.7 million had been released as of last November.
At least P4.2 billion of the funds could no longer be used as its validity would lapse unless it was allotted and used by December.
Of the unreleased money, more than P4 billion had been earmarked for various agencies.
At least P218.5 million of the funds would just be ink blots as it was neither released nor earmarked.
In 2018, the ARMM was the lone region where the poverty rate among families increased from 53.3 percent in 2015 to 53.6 percent currently. That’s half of the population being poor.
The latest Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data showed the nationwide poverty rate among families dropped to 12.1 percent in 2018 from 2015’s 17.9 percent.
The three poorest provinces in the Philippines last year were also in the autonomous region—Basilan, Sulu and Lanao del Sur—where Marawi was the capital city.
Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said one reason for the poverty rate increase was higher increases in food prices in the area.
“Remember, that’s where rice prices reached P70 per kilo,” said Navarro.
Another reason, he said, was “persistent armed conflict.”
“Even after we’ve won in the Marawi conflict, there are still persistent local conflicts because of the presence of armed groups there,” Navarro said.
Rampant corruption was also one reason. Reports of “ghost” beneficiaries of the government’s cash transfer programs were rife in Marawi City, Navarro added.
“We need to ensure that these programs are properly monitored,” Navarro said.
Navarro said the Task Force Bangon Marawi, created to oversee Marawi’s rebuilding process, had set targets that the government was unable to hit.
“But the money is there. It’s just that the programs and projects are slow-moving,” according to Navarro.
Bottlenecks in implementation of Marawi City’s reconstruction and rehabilitation “can be resolved through tighter monitoring and constant communication with stakeholders,” Navarro said.
Edited by TSB
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