The total cost of a four-year reconstruction effort may also end
up steeper than the current estimate of 361 billion pesos, Florencio
Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms to make landfall
anywhere, reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it
swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at
least 6,190 people, leaving 1,785 missing and 4 million either
homeless or with damaged homes.
"The plan was 90 billion (pesos) for the year, but I think it will
be more," Abad told Reuters in his Manila office, adding
typhoon-related spending would reach 138 billion pesos.
"I don't think they (reconstruction planners) have factored in the
need to introduce resiliency. So that will be 10-30 percent more."
Apart from the immediate need for temporary shelter, providing jobs
and restoring water, health and sanitation services, the government
underestimated other costs, including that of identifying and
documenting the dead before they are buried.
"There is an international standard for doing it, before you bury
them, that wasn't factored in. That's a lot of money already," Abad
said, adding the government could adequately finance a higher
post-typhoon spending bill this year.
Manila has set aside funding of 54 billion pesos for the rebuilding
effort from a supplemental budget passed late last year, this year's
national budget, savings, calamity and other funds. At least 80
billion pesos more would come from concessional loans offered by the
World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Japan International
"We can fund it. The question is can we absorb it? That is why we
have to start early," Abad said.
[to top of second column]
Going forward, the Philippines, which is hit by an average 20
typhoons a year, is considering not only building typhoon-resilient
structures but also permanent evacuation centers equipped with
generators and supplies — an initiative that wasn't part of initial
The government is also considering major infrastructure projects in
the central Philippines, such as relocating the coastal airport in
Tacloban, the city that bore the brunt of the storm.
The reconstruction effort will ensure the country hits the midpoint
to higher end of its 6.5 to 7.5 percent growth target this year,
Abad said, adding growth in 2013 was likely to be near the top end
of the government's 6-7 percent goal.
That view is shared by economists, with Citibank forecasting growth
of 7.3 percent this year. Local investment bank First Metro
Investment Corp has said it projects growth 2014 at 7-7.5 percent,
buoyed by strong domestic demand and rehabilitation in disaster-hit
($1 = 45 pesos)
(Editing by Nick Macfie)
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