THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is currently seeking funding for a plan to mitigate the impact of El Niño, focused on ensuring food and water security.
At a Palace briefing, NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said the plan requires P14.47 billion to implement, with “the largest investment requirement for food security… P11.55 billion or around 80% of the total investment.”
Water security is the other major item accounting for P2.76 billion, according to Ms. Navarro’s presentation.
Of the P14.47 billion proposed to implement these programs, NEDA is seeking to fund P8.34 billion.
Possible funding sources, she said, are the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, the Quick Response Fund, the Bangsamoro autonomous region budget, the private sector, and others that have yet to be determined.
Some components of the plan dealing with energy and public safety “will have no funding requirements sapagkat iyong mga proposed interventions dito ay regular activities ng mga ahensiya, kagaya ng (because the proposed interventions are part of the regular activities of agencies like the) Department of Energy, Bureau of Fire Protection and others.”
At the briefing, government meteorologists also said the El Niño, which is causing a dry spell in many parts of the country, is likely to run until August but could last until the end of 2019.
Flaviana D. Hilario, deputy administrator for research and development at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA), said: “According to the different models, it will likely continue until June, July, August of this year with high probability of around 78%. However, there is still a chance that it will continue until the end of this year, 2019… The uncertainty is quite high, so in this regard, we will give you update every month.”
Ms. Navarro said that if the government successfully implements its El Niño mitigating measures, she is “confident” it can hit its target of 6% to 7% gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
She added that NEDA has just attended a number of interagency meetings to find ways to minimize the impact of the 2019 budget delay, which led to the reenactment of the 2019 budget until about mid-April, thereby holding back government spending and dampening first-quarter GDP growth.
“Katatapos lang ng pagpupulong ng mga (We are just coming out of meetings with) critical agencies in implementing a catch-up plan or a catch-up program. Ito iyong mga (These mainly involve) the infrastructure agencies: DPWH, DoTr (the Public Works and Transportation departments).”
She said there was a separate meeting with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for its catch-up plan for accelerating project implementation.
She added the plan also involves “24/7 construction” and compelling agencies in charge of issuing permits for key projects to expedite their approvals. — Arjay L. Balinbin