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Typhoon rehab to cost P130B

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Rebuilding the areas ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and other natural calamities will cost the government a whopping P130 billion and the operation could even last beyond the end of President Aquino’s term of office, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. said on Thursday.

“If you look at the experience of Aceh, Haiti, Japan, this whole process of rehabilitation and reconstruction will take years to undertake so therefore I think by the time we are able to consume all that money, you will be moving to another year of operation,” Abad said.

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But with the outpouring of aid from foreign governments, the government intends to tap concessional loans to partly cover the huge cost of rehabilitation, he said.

Moving forward

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“We at least will have P130 billion moving forward,” Abad told reporters after the Senate hearing on Thursday on the proposed P14.6-billion supplemental budget and congressional authorization for the utilization up to the end of 2014 of P20.8 billion in calamity funds, quick response funds and other unobligated allotments for 2013.

President Aquino has certified as urgent these two measures that seek to infuse fresh funds into the rehabilitation of areas devastated not just by Supertyphoon Yolanda but by other recent calamities.

The House appropriations committee approved the measures on Wednesday, and these will be tackled on the floor next week.

The Senate finance committee approved both proposals on Thursday.

No waiting period

With the President’s certification, Congress no longer has to observe the three-day waiting period between the second- and third-reading vote.

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Abad explained that the P130-billion estimated rehabilitation budget would be partly covered by a P100-billion rehabilitation fund introduced by the Senate in the P2.268-trillion 2014 budget, broken down into P80-billion unprogrammed funds and P20-billion programmed funds.

The P80-billion unprogrammed funds will be sourced from concessional loans from the Asian Development Bank, which has committed $500 million, and $900 million from the World Bank, among others, he said.

The balance of P80 billion will come from concessional loans, such as from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and other multilateral agencies, he said.

Most pressing need

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), meanwhile, has pegged the cost of the initial relief and reconstruction plan for the Yolanda-ravaged areas at P38.8 billion.

The amount covers immediate and most-pressing needs for relief and rehabilitation of the hardest-hit areas, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said at a press briefing on Thursday.

He stressed, however, that the amount could change as relevant data, such as on the number of families affected as well as their urgent needs, are still coming in.

“It is important to complete these critical actions as soon as possible. Otherwise, the already adverse impact of the disaster on poor families could be permanent and intergenerational, especially for families with children deprived of health and education services,” Balisacan said.

He said the master plan for immediate relief and reconstruction would be done over a period of one year.

Balisacan, who is also Neda director general, said that once the short-term master plan for relief and reconstruction is rolled out, the government would release a medium- to long-term master plan that will include reconstruction of public infrastructure.

Included in the short-term master plan are construction of shelter for families who used to live in danger zones, financial assistance for the purchase of housing materials for other affected families, cash-for-work program for people who lost their livelihood, seedlings and other assistance to farmers and fishermen, and repair of damaged public schools, hospitals, government offices and public market.

The cash-for-work program involves the hiring of affected people in reconstruction activities in order to give them temporary replacement income.

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TAGS: budget, Philippines, Supertyphoon Yolanda, typhoon rehabilitation
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