$1-B loan pledges for post-Haiyan rebuilding
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has received loan pledges totaling US$1 billion to help rebuild areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) after the World Bank Monday, November 18 matched an Asian Development Bank (ADB) offer.
In a statement, the World Bank said $500 million is "being finalized to support reconstruction" following the devastating typhoon that tore through the disaster-prone country's central islands.
"We are committed to supporting the government in its effort to recover and rebuild, and to help Filipinos strengthen their resilience against increasingly frequent extreme weather events," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.
The financial assistance is in response to a government request, the statement added, and comes after the ADB last week said it stood ready to provide a $500-million emergency loan.
"We are working in close collaboration with the government and all other international agencies to provide hope and rebuild the lives of more than 11 million people affected by what is being described as one of the Philippines' worst ever natural disasters," ADB President Takehiko Nakao said Wednesday.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan said loans from the multilateral agencies are "soft loans," which means they are "not tied to any particular use."
"We can be more flexible in deploying those resources," he said.
Thousands of people died when Haiyan – packing some of the strongest winds ever recorded – smashed into the Philippines on November 8, generating tsunami-like waves that flattened entire communities and left up to 4 million people displaced.
Analysts earlier estimated the economic cost of the typhoon could reach up to $15 billion.
A rehabilitation and reconstruction plan is necessary to properly utilize the loans, Balisacan noted.
NEDA is currently crafting a plan that will outline short- and long-term actions to rebuild facilities, restore social services and revive economic activities in affected communities.
The plan will be presented to President Benigno Aquino III in two to 3 weeks.
"(We need) to come out first with a rehab and reconstruction plan to make sure that we will properly coordinate and utilize those resources. So we need to quickly do assessment of damage and losses – damaged infra, utilities and services that will need to put back in place, restored," Balisacan said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Additional P60B in budget
The government also wants to increase the 2014 budget by another P60 billion for the rehabilitation needs of Visayas.
"Additional demands for rehabilitation, reconstruction programmed for next year is 2-3% of GDP (gross domestic product). We want to make it at least 3.5%, that could give us roughly P60 billion more," Balisacan said.
The NEDA chief, however, emphasized that financing of rebuilding efforts is not the major problem; it's deployment of resources.
"I don’t think that resources will be the major problem. It is deploying them... deploying them quickly and efficiently so that we could minimize the cost, the social cost of this crisis on our population," he explained.
Rebuilding schools, hospitals and livelihood in affected communities should be done quickly otherwise "many of these people, who have become transient poor, will become permanent poor," noted Balisacan.
Massive destruction brought by Yolanda prompted NEDA to reduce its 2013 economic growth projection for the country from above 7% to 6.5% to 7%. – Cherrie Regalado/Rappler.com, with Agence France-Presse