Much has to be done one year after Typhoon Haiyan

Much has to be done to fully restore the communities in Central Philippines a year after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region.  The Philippine government and non-government organizations are in the forefront of the rehabilitation effort.

Asian Development Bank vice president Stephen Groff says communities are being rebuilt and livelihoods restored though much work remains to complete the job, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice-President Stephen Groff.

“The day Yolanda hit was a terrible day for the Philippines and deeply affected all of us at ADB, which calls the Philippines home,” says Mr. Groff.

“Following a successful relief effort, solid progress has been made on repairing crucial infrastructure like national roads and bridges, supporting families with transitional housing and employment, and re-establishing local industry.”

Considered one of the worst storms in history, Yolanda devastated vast areas of the central Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving millions homeless and jobless. Over half a million houses were destroyed and the agriculture sector was severely impacted.

Shortly after the disaster, ADB approved $900 million in assistance for stricken communities, including an emergency assistance loan of $500 million and grants totalling $23 million.

An additional $150 million in resources from ongoing ADB projects is available for re-purposing to respond to needs in transport, agrarian reform, community-driven development, and conditional cash transfers.

Overall, ADB’s funding provides support for community-driven development, local government infrastructure, power restoration, livelihoods and employment, education and health care services, and improved disaster resilience.

“Recovery is not complete. Some communities still need short-term assistance. Longer-term housing, resettlement and livelihood needs for these people are very real and urgent. ADB will stand with the government and people of the Philippines until the job is done,” says Mr Groff.

Philippine inflation rate eases to 4.3% in October

Slower price increases of food has slowed down Philippine inflation rate to 4.3 percent in October 2014 from the September level of 4.4%.

“Ample supply of meat, fish, and vegetable items in the market and easing of commodity prices helped reduce price pressures,” says Economic Planning Sec. Arsenio M. Balisacan.

“In part, the easing of logistics bottleneck in the port of Manila starting September 2014 may have also contributed to the abatement of price pressures in October 2014,” says Balisacan.

Year-to-date inflation stood at 4.3 percent, still within the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s target of 3 to 5%.

The easing prices of commodities in the international market amid improved supply were reflected in the domestic markets.  However, this favorable impact was negated by the year-on-year upward adjustments in electricity charges during the period.

Price indices of electricity, gas and other fuels went up to 3.2 percent in October 2014 from 2.4 percent. Electricity price increased as a result of the P0.67 per kilowatt hour generation charge of the Manila Electric Company or MERALCO.

“Overall, the tempered inflation outturn is expected to provide the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) room to possibly keep its key policy rates steady,” says Balisacan.

The central bank’s monetary board in October 23, 2014, kept the BSP key policy rates unchanged at 4 percent for the overnight borrowing or reverse repurchase (RRP) facility and 6 percent for the overnight lending or repurchase (RP) facility. This was done due to easing pressures for commodity prices, robust domestic demand, adequate domestic liquidity, and strong bank lending growth.

“On the external front, global economic prospects are expected to remain uneven, thus mitigating upward pressures on commodity prices,” says Balisacan.

The government will remain vigilant against inflation risks and will continue efforts to ensure supply sufficiency of key commodities and to mitigate the impact of a possible dry spell. It also continues to explore more lasting solutions to the port congestion problem to avoid disruptions in the domestic supply chain that could result in higher transportation costs.