THE GOVERNMENT is looking to draw P2.4 billion from unprogrammed funds in the 2018 budget to help kick-start rehabilitation of Marawi City areas that were the most damaged in last year’s five-month battle with Islamic State-inspired local militants, a senior economic planning official said last week.
A private consortium of Filipino and Chinese firms was initially the main proponent to rehabilitate Marawi City’s so-called “ground zero,” or the most affected area (MAA), through a public-private partnership (PPP), but it was eventually disqualified after failing to show financial capacity to undertake the task.
“Ang mas concern ngayon (The main concern now) is how to fund the projects in the MAA. Based on the latest discussions, pwede naman i-tap ‘yung (we can tap) unprogrammed funds sa GAA (General Appropriations Act of) 2018. It can be unlocked,” NEDA Undersecretary for Regional Development Adoracion M. Navarro told reporters on Thursday.
“Sa ngayon, ang tinitingnan nasa (We are now looking at) P2.4 billion, kasi ‘yung (of the) GAA unprogrammed (funds) is P5 billion… Pero hindi pa ‘yun (but that isn’t) final kasi it will still be based on the submission of Task Force Bangon Marawi implementing agencies.”
Unprogrammed funds (UF) in the national budget can be tapped under certain conditions, such as excess government revenues.
“There are funds in the UF for Marawi and balances from the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council),” Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said in a separate mobile phone message on Sunday when asked for details.
The rehabilitation plan for the MAA is separate from the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Program (BMCRRP), which covers battle-affected locations outside the most devastated area.
The government has set a five-year BMCRRP. It has allocated some P10 billion for this purpose from this year’s budget and raised P35 billion in pledges from multilateral development banks, donor countries, as well as local and international organizations, in the form of concessional loans and grants. These funds are applicable for rehabilitation of locations outside the MAA.
But with the recent setback in the PPP plan for the MAA, the government has to now step in.
“Sa ngayon, ’yan na muna pero option rin naman ’yung ibang modalities. Let’s see kung ano ang magiging final plan (That is it for now, but there are other options. Let’s see what will be the final plan for the most-affected area),” said Ms. Navarro.
The government also plans to sell about P13.5 billion in retail Treasury bonds for Marawi City’s rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation began on Oct. 30 after about a four-month delay, focused on debris management by local contractor FINMAT International Resources, Incorporated.
The succeeding tranches of the five-part rehabilitation of the MAA include: construction of roads, related infrastructure and underground facilities; road widening; right-of-way acquisition; as well as a master development plan with feasibility studies for new projects like public parks, barangay halls, public markets, port facilities, transport hubs, school buildings, memorial sites, a museum and even a convention center. — Elijah J. C. Tubayan