Congress bloc vows bigger Mindanao budget for 2013-A A +A
Thursday, June 21, 2012
DAVAO CITY – Mindanao can be assured of a hefty share of the country’s General Appropriations Act (GAA) as the 62-member Mindanao lawmakers’ bloc vowed for more budget for the island-region next year.
Representative Arnulfo Go (2nd District, Sultan Kudarat), House Committee chairperson on Mindanao Affairs, said they could seek for bigger allocation to fund various Mindanao programs and projects during the budget deliberations.
“We really see to it that national line agencies shall allot an equal share of their budget to Mindanao,” Go said during the press conference for the Mindanao Economy and Environment Summit, a multi-sector gathering aimed at building constituency and formulating actions plans for the development and management of Mindanao watersheds, held here recently.
He said his committee has been advocating for an increased budget allocation for Mindanao, especially in terms of agri-fishery development and infrastructure.
Go said Mindanao’s contiguous production areas and agro-climatic conditions can support a year-round agricultural production, thus, making the island-region the country’s food basket.
Moreover, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is poised to work with Mindanao legislators in pushing for the island's bigger share in the national budget.
“We can’t pursue all our peace and development interventions in Mindanao if we don’t have enough resources,” said Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDA chairperson.
She added that Mindanao has to catch up with mainstream national development, having been a victim of development disparity and economic inequity.
"Mindanao should have equity or parity of access to national development and progress," she said.
Antonino said that as early as 2010, MinDA has been rallying for the island-region’s equitable share in the national budget, which resulted in increased allocation for Mindanao for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
“For this year Mindanao got an increased total budget allocation amounting to P219 billion which is about 34 percent higher compared to what the island-region received in 2011,” said Antonino.
Citing this year’s Regional Allocation of the Expenditure Program of Select Departments/Special Purpose Funds for Mindanao by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Antonino said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Food Self-sufficiency by 2013 Program has allocated Mindanao with P14 billion this year.
“Our farmers can greatly benefit from this amount which is intended to construct and rehabilitate irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities in Mindanao,” said Antonino.
On the other hand, she said that the island-region shall receive P18 billion from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Mindanao is host to six out of the country’s top ten poorest provinces,” said Antonino and she pointed out that a big portion of DSWD’s budget shall be spent for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The island-region only received P295.5 million from DSWD last year.
“Department of Health’s budget for Mindanao went double this year,” said Antonino, adding that Mindanao’s budget allocation for health services now amounted to P4 billion.
Moreover, Antonino said that in terms of interconnecting the island-region with more bridges and road networks, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has already programmed a P20.5 billion worth of projects for Mindanao.
“For 2011, Mindanao only got P13.2 billion for public works,” she said.
Lastly, Antonino said that with the increased budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for Mindanao this year amounting to P2.7 billion, an increase of 40 percent from last year’s budget, the island-region will be able contribute more to the national greening program which targets 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares by 2016.
Antonino said that pushing for Mindanao's bigger share in the national budget is one of the identified strategies to achieve the overall peace and development goals for Mindanao over the next 20 years.
“Within that twenty-year period, agriculture and agribusiness will remain the primary growth driver of Mindanao's economy,” said Antonino, adding that necessary measures such as restoring Mindanao’s heavily degraded watersheds is imperative to be able to support the country’s growing food requirements.
Antonino said that Mindanao accounts for more than 40 percent of the country’s food requirements.
Antonino urged the Mindanao lawmakers to support MinDA’s flagship program called Mindanao Nurturing Our Waters (MindaNOW) program which seeks to integrate and harmonize a ridge to reef approach in managing Mindanao’s resources through coordinated planning, policy advocacy, and by providing platforms for public-private convergence so that local initiatives can be supported.
As embodied in the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan or Mindanao 2020, Mindanao's agriculture and agribusiness can only be strengthened as linchpins for broad-based development by raising the island's budget.
A sequel to the Mindanao 2000 Development Framework Plan crafted in 1995, the Mindanao 2020 provides the 20-year strategic direction and framework for peace and development in Mindanao.
The Mindanao 2020, which covers the period 2011 to 2030, is crafted with inputs from several consultations and validations as well as quick surveys and key informant interviews with various groups all across the six regions of Mindanao.
Antonino said that MinDA has already presented the Mindanao 2020 to President Aquino as the administration’s agenda for Mindanao.
The formulation of the Mindanao 2020 Plan is spearheaded by MinDA with funding support from the Australian Agency for International Development. (PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 21, 2012.