Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Salceda calls ‘Yolanda’ climate monster
By Connie Destura

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 12 (PNA) -- With a staggering economic cost of P604 billion or US$ 14 billion, super typhoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) has put more pressure behind the commitment of the Green Climate Fund Board to operationalize the fund in 2014, according to Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, who currently chairs the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.

Salceda noted there is also a need to conduct a resource mobilization exercise by September 2014 when the United Nations General Assembly meets in New York as well as provide initial funding to capability building and preparedness activities of developing countries.

"It is no mere coincidence that I was unanimously selected by developing countries to co-chair the fund with Germany a month before this climate monster clawed and sank its pangs into my homeland, right at the center which hosts most of our beautiful spots,” he said.

Salceda claimed that the Green Climate Fund is the principal weapon of the world community in slaying this grievous monster.

“Thus far, bilateral donations have amounted to only P2.4 billion, a far cry from the P604-billion economic impact it has cost the Philippines, which is equivalent to five percent of the country’s gross domestic product," the Albay governor said.

The amount, he said, is more than three times the reconstruction cost of typhoons “Pepeng” and “Ondoy,” based on an assessment done by the World Bank.

This overlaps with the negative impact or reconstruction demand from "Pablo", that hit Zamboanga and Bohol provinces which totaled another P60 billion.

Salceda said some P664 billion less the P86 billion insurance proceeds means a net funding demand of P578 billion.

“We expect reconstruction and rebuilding efforts to kick off in 2014, which could provide the boost. The government announced that it is going to utilize an initial P23 billion for reconstruction relief. But this is way below the estimated economic impact on output by the loss in fixed capacity, thus, limiting the country’s GDP growth to only five percent,” the economist governor said.

Given the staggering size of P664 billion in reconstruction cost, the mind-blowing physical magnitude, the complexity of tasks and the absorptive capacity, Salceda suggested that Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras be installed as the reconstruction czar or overall coordinator.

Almendras, he said, will also be in charge of special pledging session to mobilize international financial resources.

“In the meantime, the humanitarian response (relief and early recovery) should be centralized under Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman,” he said. (PNA) LGI/FGS/CBD/UTB