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Eastern Visayas council wants unspent billions for Yolanada reallocated

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The Eastern Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC) is seeking to reallocate unspent multi-billion funds meant for rehabilitation of areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda, which were returned to the National Treasury.

The resolution was forwarded to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Special Concerns (OPASC) headed by Undersecretary Wendel Avisado, said RDC vice chair and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Bonifacio Uy.

“The OPASC has already requested the Bureau of Treasury last month to provide them an official report of the total amount of Yolanda funds reverted to the National Treasury from 2014 to present,” Uy said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The RDC official said the funds are needed since there are still remaining rehabilitation concerns that must be addressed, especially on permanent housing.

Citing report from the Department of Budget and Management, the NEDA regional chief said about P737.24 million of post-Yolanda funds from 2013 to 2017 had been reverted to the Bureau of Treasury.

Also included among reverted budget was the big chunk of P18.89 billion 2016 National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (NDRRMF) that expired December 2017.

The 2016 allocation was released late in 2016 or early 2017, giving the agencies less time to procure and obligate the funds within the year, Uy said.

Primarily, these funds were intended for the departments of Agriculture, of Tourism, and of Trade and Industry.

The consolidated unspent budget came from calamity fund, NDRRMF, quick respond fund, automatic and supplemental appropriation, realignments and savings, regular agency funds, among others.

“These funds were not utilized as some agencies encountered issues in the procurement of Yolanda projects such as processing of documents and usufruct agreement,” Uy said.

Since the super typhoon struck in 2013, around P146.2 billion had already been released for post-disaster recovery for all affected areas in central Philippines.

About 46 percent of the funds or P67.1 billion were intended for Eastern Visayas. (PNA)