Infra spending program to be hiked due to Visayas rehab

MANILA, Philippines – The government will increase its infrastructure spending target due to reconstruction activities in Visayas areas that were struck by calamities.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, December 17, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan said the government needs to increase its infrastructure budget to rehabilitate the areas affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November and the 7.1-magnitude earthquake in October.

"We see that and we're probably looking at a higher number, more than just 5% (of gross domestic product) by 2016,"  Balisacan said.

"We need to undertake [reconstruction] not only in Yolanda-affected areas, but also the earthquake-affected areas," he added.

Under its medium-term fiscal program, the government programmed its infrastructure spending at 3% of GDP for 2014, 4.1% of GDP for 2015, and 5% of GDP for 2016. The continuous increase is meant to help sustain the country's fast economic growth.

On November 8, Typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas, killing more than 5,000 people and damaging billions of pesos worth of infrastructure and crops. On the other hand, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Cebu and Bohol on October 15.

Higher 2014 rehab budget

The 2014 budget for rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Yolanda-ravaged areas was increased as well.

Balisacan said the government will now spend P130 billion for rehabilitation plans next year, up from the P38.8 billion it earmarked earlier.

Of the P130 billion, P100 billion will come from the 2014 national budget that was approved by Congress, while the remaining P30 billion could be funded by the country’s development partners.

Officials of NEDA and the departments of Foreign Affairs and Finance will present the full Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation master plan to development partners on Wednesday, December 18. –