May 28, 2011
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The poverty-alleviation program of the government of President Benigno Aquino III will get its needed boost now that the 434-million-US-dollar grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States is being implemented.
Three major projects under the MCC grant would demonstrate the joint commitment of the United States and Philippines in fighting poverty in the country, Philippine Finance Secretary and Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) Vice Chairman Cesar V. Purisima and MCA-P Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ma. Victoria E. Anonuevo said in a press statement released on Thursday.
Purisima and MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes signed the Compact, which contains the US grant, on Sept. 23, 2010 in New York. President Aquino III who was on a state visit to the United States at that time and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have witnessed the signing of the Compact.
During the signing, President Aquino III assured the donor country that his administration would handle the funds with utmost care. "I am here to assure you that the Philippines is committed to good housekeeping practices in its domestic and international dealings with investors," Aquino said.
Aquino also said that his administration is committed "not just to a fair, but a square, deal for all. We will not abandon the poor to the markets just as we will not distort markets by means of red tape or crony impositions." The implementation of the Compact, which will run for five years, followed the completion by the Philippine government, through MCA-P, of project preparation and documentation involving the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Compact implementing entities, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the DOF's Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS).
Secretary Purisima said that the implementation of the MCC " shows the Aquino administration's strong resolve to undertake infrastructure projects that promote sustainable economic growth and help reduce poverty across all regions of the country in the soonest time possible."
Purisima expressed appreciation to the US government and the American people for extending the grant and "for being partners of the Philippines and the Filipinos in our fight against poverty."
He even said that if the project is properly implemented to the satisfaction of the US, after five years the Philippine could request another MCC grant.
The 434-million-US-dollar MCC Compact provides funding for three major projects in the Philippines. First, it provides 214.4 million dollars to construct and repair 220-kilometer Samar Road, in one of the country's poorest provinces.
The Samar Road, which passes through 15 municipalities, will improve access to markets and services for farmers, fishers, and small businesses in Samar and neighboring provinces.
The Compact also includes 120 million dollars to expand the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Linking Arms Against Poverty)- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services or Kalahi- CIDSS, a development project that empowers communities by encouraging their participation in poverty reducing activities.
The project will provide community grants to support the building of critical infrastructure such as water systems, clinics, and schools. This innovative project design strengthens local accountability and allows poor communities to effectively design and transparently manage the projects they need to increase their incomes and improve their lives.
Along with the Aquino administration's conditional cash transfer program, which has a budget of 22 billion peso, or 505.7 million dollars, this year, the Kalahi-CIDSS program is expected to alleviate the conditions of the country's poor and marginalized sector.
The third component of the program is the 54.3 million dollars in investments to computerize and streamline business processes in the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This project will bolster the effectiveness of revenue collection and reduce opportunities for corruption.