Thursday, October 30, 2014
Recto wants P17.5 B ‘mega lump-sum’ for civil society used in fight vs hunger
MANILA-The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will disburse P17.5 billion worth of grants to civil society and local governments next year and a senator wants part of this earmarked for food production and processing projects that will benefit malnourished children.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto described the P17.5 billion proposed allocation for the “Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Project” or “KC-NCDDP” as “one of the biggest unitemized lump-sum items” in the 2015 national budget.
It is also one of the budget items which will post the biggest increase – from P498 million this year to P17.5 billion next year.
The program intends to fund 6,735 grassroots projects next year at an average project cost of P2.6 million.
While government agencies will be the conduit of funds, the implementation will be handled by a “community entity”, Recto said.
This prompted Recto to urge DSWD officials to ensure that the bidding out of projects fully comply with government procurement laws and that projects be subject to audit by the Commission on Audit (COA).
A COA representative told a Senate finance subcommittee chaired by Recto that “historically, COA has only been able to audit 10 percent of KALAHI projects.”
Despite these “curable issues,” Recto said the KC-NCDDP can be used to boost food inventory in the community.
“The budget for that program next year is big. It is almost thrice that of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and 43 times the money that will be given to the Philippine Carabao Center next year,” Recto said.
“If some of the recipients are SMEs, then the budget of the KC-NCDDP is four times the appropriations of the department in-charge of SMEs, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), for 2015,” Recto said.
“Kung ganoon kalaki ang pondo ng KC-NCDDP, siguro naman makakahanap sila ng mga proyektong magpapalakas ng huli ng isda o pwedeng magbigay ng gatas ng kalabaw sa mga bata,” Recto said.
“The idea is to attach a food security peg to this P17.5 billion mega fund,” Recto said.
“If hunger and food scarcity are two of the biggest issues in the grassroots, then this fund should be able to address these,” he said.
Recto said KC-NCDDP should be able to fund food security projects like irrigation and farm roads “in places whose residents have identified these as the kind they need.”
The KC-NCDDP is a P43.9 billion five year project financed by loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
“Kung 25 years from now binabayaran pa rin ito ng ating mga apo, dapat lang siguraduhin natin na mapunta ito sa mga proyektong magbibigay ginhawa sa buhay,” Recto said, referring to the 2022 to 2045 repayment schedule of the loan.
“There may be loan conditionalities. But we should insist that it should serve our interest. And we can begin by using this as a tool to fight hunger,” Recto said.
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