Monday, May 18, 2015

NAPC urges Bicol agencies to fast track BUB anti-poverty projects

PILI, Camarines Sur, May 17 (PNA) -- The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) has urged Bicol-based local and national government agencies to fast track implementation of poverty-alleviation projects placed under their responsibilities through the Grassroot Participatory Budget Process (GPBP) scheme.

In a recent meeting with members of the Regional Poverty Reduction Action Team (RPRAT), NAPC Undersecretary Florencia Dorotan said every local government unit (LGU) and national government agency (NGA) involved should fast track the implementation of the GPBP and other anti-poverty projects and ensure that they really benefit the intended beneficiaries.

Apart from RPRAT members, the meeting, which was hosted by the Regional Field Unit (RFU) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) based here, was also attended by representatives of civil society organizations, provincial planning and development councils and community mobilization teams involved in the implementation of projects in Bicol identified under the GPBP.

It was presided over by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director and RPRAT chair Elouisa Pastor, Emily Bordado, DA RFU spokesperson, on Saturday told the Philippines News Agency.

The agenda include the by-agency status report of 2013, 2014 and 2015 GPBP projects as of 1st quarter of 2015; RPRAT empowerment and accountabilities; policy updates and discussions of issues and concerns.

The community mobilization teams were also requested to share their observations and feedback on the implementation of the GPBP projects, according to Bordado.

Formerly known as the Bottom-Up Budgeting, the GPBP being applied by the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high-level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

The GPBP exercise was started by the Aquino administration in 2012 through the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cluster and the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption Cluster as an strategy that hopes to empower civil society organizations and citizen’s groups to engage LGUs and NGAs and make them more responsive to people’s needs.

Bicol this year has been allocated by the Department of Budget and Management a total of Php1.7 billion in GPBP funds distributed for release to LGUs and other beneficiaries by 14 line agencies, including DA.

Of this amount, a total of Php312.1 million is intended to further nourish the region’s farming sector, according to DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas.

He said Bicol, with its largest farming area compared to all the other 16 regions of the country, is top contributor to the national economic growth in terms of agricultural productivity and with this additional fund, the DA is able to finance more farm development projects identified by LGUs, he said.

A total of 108 projects proposed by some LGUs in the six provinces of the region which qualified to the GPBP for having Public Financial Management Implementation Plan and being awardees of the Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping given by the DBM are funded by this allocation, Bragas said.

These projects are distributed among seven LGUs in Albay, accounting for a total of 16 projects; Camarines Norte, 20 projects for 11 LGUs; Camarines Sur, 30 projects of 13 LGUs; Catanduanes, seven projects of four LGUs; Masbate, 17 projects in six LGUs and; Sorsogon, 18 projects in nine LGUs.

These projects are composed mainly of agricultural productivity support infrastructures like farm-to- market roads, community irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities that are necessary to make farming, harvesting, storage and marketing of farm products easier for more income of farmers, Bragas said.

He clarified that all GPBP-funded LGU projects are focused either on the production of corn, rice and other high-value crops and livestock based on organic agriculture system.

Last year, 465 similar projects have been identified for funding, also under the GPBP of DA, and checks representing these have been recently turned over to beneficiary LGUs.

Of this number of projects, Bragas said, Albay got 55; Camarines Norte, 50; Camarines sur, 120; Catanduanes, 41; Masbate, 100 and; Sorsogon, 99.

Other line agencies given GPBP funds for release to LGUs and other project implementing arms are the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Education, Interior and Local Government, Energy, Health, Labor and Employment, Transportation, Social Welfare and Development and Trade and Industry.

The Local Government Support Fund of the DILG, National Electrification Administration, National Irrigation Administration and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority also have their own separate shares of GBBP funds at their disposal.

Bordado said Dorotan made the push for more expeditious project implementations over reports of slow-paced accomplishments.

The Empowerment of the Poor Program developed by the NAPC in cooperation with the DILG complements the GPBP initiative by strengthening civil society organizations capacity to engage with the LGUs in this exercise.

Dorotan also reminded everyone in the meeting on the “no epal” policy covering anti-poverty projects of the government, saying that contents of tarpaulin to be set up in project sites should not include names of mayors and other government officials.(PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/PJN