US-funded anti-poverty projects done by 2016

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2015 06:08 PM | Updated as of Jul 06 2015 02:08 AM

MANILA -- Millenium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P), the entity responsible for managing the implementation of the $434-million grant from the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), belied reports that it has stopped using the grant for anti-poverty projects.

"We are committed to finish the projects and we will do so by May 2016," MCA-P managing director and CEO Marivic Añonuevo said in a statement.

The $434-million grant from the US, called "the Compact," is used to fund three anti-poverty projects in the Philippines, namely, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan–Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) project with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); the Secondary National Roads Development Project (SNRDP) with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); and the Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP) with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Finance.

According to Añonuevo, they have used around 85 percent of the grant, or $369 million, as of March 2015 for these projects. MCA-P management remains optimistic that the funds will be fully utilized in the anti-poverty projects by the end of the Compact in May 2016, she added.

She also assured that all unutilized funds will be returned to MCC.

"Strict MCC guidelines make it impossible to divert funds to other purposes. Everything that we have done has been to help uplift the lives of Filipinos through economic growth," Añonuevo stressed.

Añonuevo also debunked claims that MCA-P refuses to return to the national government the P600 million allocated for SNRDP through the Disbursement Acceleration Program. She said the P600 million was returned to the Bureau of the Treasury on June 18, following a recommendation from the Commission on Audit.

She added that after a careful evaluation of the remaining grant funds under the Millennium Challenge Compact, MCA-P has deemed that additional funds from the government were no longer necessary to complete SNRDP.

The fund was allocated by the government in line with the government’s obligation in the Compact to provide funds in case of budget gaps in any of the MCC-funded projects.

In RARP, Añonuevo said the revenue reform efforts in the BIR are in place to enhance the existing tax administration system and raise additional revenues for government. The project also supports the Revenue Integrity Protection Service of the DOF, which conducts lifestyle checks on officials and employees of DOF’s revenue generating agencies.

MCA-P has completed 2,180 community-driven development projects that have benefitted close to half a million households in six regions in the Philippines as of May 2015. Through DSWD’s KALAHI-CIDSS project, MCA-P has provided basic social services sub-projects to 1,834 barangays, many of which have poverty incidence of as high as 80 percent.

Of the 2,180 completed sub-projects, 309 are school buildings, 259 are water supply systems, 160 are day care centers, 126 are health stations, and 22 are electrification projects. MCA-P has also provided basic access infrastructure sub-projects such as farm-to-market roads, access trails and foot paths, and small/foot bridges.

These are in remote barangays in the Cordillera Administrative Region, MIMAROPA, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, including those that were recently devastated by natural calamities.

In Samar island, the 222-kilometer road rehabilitation project is still proceeding, with financial commitment reaching 96 percent as of March 2015. As of June 21, 2015, actual road works completed reached 139.31 kilometers, representing 73.74 percent of the overall net length for rehabilitation (excluding 33.31 kilometers of bridges and roads already paved).

The road rehabilitation includes road pavement, provision of road safety measures, and construction of drainage canals and slope protection structures.