The Aquino administration has prepared a four-year recovery and reconstruction plan in areas that were affected by super typhoon Yolanda, which will hopefully bring back at the very least the economic and social conditions in the affected provinces to pre-typhoon levels.
The Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY) plan will require P361 billion worth of investments, which will be disbursed over a period of four years.
For this year alone, the national government will disburse P100 billion under its 2014 budget to cover the short-term needs in the affected areas.
Under the P2.265 trillion 2014 General Appropriations Act, P20 billion has been allocated to the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program, while another P80 billion under the Unprogrammed Fund will be channeled towards reconstruction projects in the provinces hit by the super typhoon.
The government was already able to release P34 billion last year for the critical immediate needs in affected areas.
National Economic and Development Authority director general Arsenio Balisacan earlier said the estimated total investment requirements over the four-year period will cover shelter and resettlement (P183.3 billion), public infrastructure (P28.4 billion), education and health services (P37.4 billion), agriculture (P18.7 billion), industry and services (P70.6 billion), local government (P4 billion), and social protection (P18.4 billion).
“RAY is the government’s strategic plan to guide the recovery and reconstruction of the economy, lives, and livelihoods in the affected areas,” Balisacan said.
The NEDA chief said with the reconstruction plan in place, the government’s infrastructure spending could go beyond the target of five percent of the country’s gross domestic product by 2016.
“Obviously we will have to move forward. Because of the needs for the recovery and reconstruction in Visayas, we’re looking at a higher number for infrastructure spending, more than five percent of GDP by 2016,” Balisacan said.
“We may need to move that up a little higher because of the reconstruction we need to undertake not only for the Yolanda-affected areas, but also for the areas affected by the recent earthquake,” the NEDA chief added.
The World Bank said government spending on infrastructure must be increased to five percent of GDP to be able to support the Aquino administration’s goal of inclusive growth.
For this year, the national government expects infrastructure spending will exceed 3.2 percent of the country’s GDP as disbursements for the short-term needs are already seen to significantly boost spending.
“The program for infrastructure spending (this year) is 3.2 percent of GDP, but it can go higher. We will have to ramp up spending in infrastructure,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad earlier said.
Balisacan said the design of RAY and its estimated investment requirements are based on the results of the damage, loss, and needs assessment using data from national government agency-led sector teams.
He said in some cases, upward adjustments were made to fully reflect the costs of integrating disaster-resilient standards into the reconstruction needs for some sectors, as well as to address estimated income losses in agriculture enterprises, and to provide adequate social protection.
“We are espousing the build back better principle to make affected communities more resilient and sustainable,” he said.
According to Balisacan, the total damage and loss from super typhoon Yolanda has been estimated at P571.1 billion.
He said this includes physical assets, reductions in production, sales, and income, as well as the value of increased operating costs resulting from the disaster.
Of the total damage and loss, about 90 percent covered the private sector while 10 percent fell on the public sector.
Balisacan said the super typhoon caused damage and loss to infrastructure (P33.98 billion), agriculture (P62.11 billion), industry and services (P116 billion), education (P23.9 billion), health (P5.57 billion), housing (P325.24 billion), and local government (P4.3 billion).
Balisacan explained the sector-level damage and loss assessments are based on United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Carribean’s Handbook for Estimating the Socioeconomic and Environmental Effects of Disasters, an internationally recognized post-disaster assessment methodology.
“Using this methodology, we defined damage as the total or partial destruction of physical assets. Loss, on the other hand, is defined as the change in economic flows which refers to loss of incomes, revenues or operational costs,” the NEDA chief said.
“Needs means the overall recovery and reconstruction requirements for the public and private sector in the short and medium term,” he added.
Balisacan said the government will be strategic in its financing interventions and will mobilize other sources of funds that are now being made available by development partners and the private sector.
“It is important that we have a plan immediately in place. RAY shall also guide our development partners and the private sector in assessing and analyzing financing gaps, determining which sectors or areas to focus their assistance on considering their respective country partnership strategies,” he said.
According to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH), a web-based initiative which allows the public to monitor the status of foreign aid to the Philippines, The international aid pledged by different countries and global institutions to support the disaster response and rehabilitation efforts Yolanda-affected has already reached P23.798 billion.
Of the total foreign aid pledged, around P2.8 billion is cash while around P21 billion is considered non-cash.
As of December 18, 2013, the total cash received by the government is close to P593 million.
LOSS OF JOBS
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 5.9 million workers had their livelihoods lost or suspended or affected in some way because of the super typhoon.
The ILO said 2.6 million of these were already in vulnerable employment and living at or near the poverty line even before the typhoon.
NEDA also earlier said that because of the super typhoon, the poverty rate in the entire country could increase by as much as 1.5 percentage points in 2013.
“There has been a recent study by the Asian Development Bank, and their estimates show that the additional number of the poor would increase probably by as much as 1.5 percentage points, because of the incidence of disasters,” NEDA Assistant Director General Rosemarie Edillon said.
“It was a simulation of a Yolanda-like disaster. It translates to 1.5 million Filipinos. That could be the worst case scenario,” she added.
Edillon also said there’s a possibility that Region VIII or the Eastern Visayas region, which was severely affected by the super typhoon, could end up being the poorest region for 2013.
According to the 2012 Full Year Official Poverty Statistics, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is the poorest region in 2012, with the poverty incidence among the population at 55.8 percent.
“Region VIII is already a poor region. If we have around 50 percent poverty incidence in the region to begin with, we should be looking at those in the sixth and seventh income decile. If they’re vulnerable, and you get a shock like Yolanda, will that slide them into poverty? That’s what we’re looking at,” Edillon said.
According to an earlier assessment of NEDA, after the typhoon, the persons living below the poverty level in the region could have already risen to 59 percent to 64 percent.
“A very important consideration at this time is the impact of natural disasters on poverty. These occurrences have the power to negate gains in economic growth and development,” Edillon said.
The ILO said it is working with the government and supporting agencies like Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority through emergency employment, skills training, and enterprise development for those who were affected by the super typhoon.
“Since Haiyan (Yolanda) struck on November 8, the ILO supported the DOLE in creating over 20,000 jobs under the emergency employment program. We reached out to 100,000 people during the initial phase in 2013 to help improve their living and working conditions,” Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, said.
“But more needs to be done to provide access to safe and decent work that includes ensuring minimum wages, sound occupational safety, skills development and social protection in line with national laws,” he added.
The ILO said three million workers were affected in the service industry, which includes people working in shops, public markets, and restaurants, as well as vendors, tricycle and jeepney drivers, mechanics, clerks, and teachers.
Aside from workers in the service sector, 1.9 million workers in agriculture and one million in industry were also affected by the super typhoon.