PRDP implementers seek more funds for Bicol

PILI, Camarines Sur, Nov. 11 (PNA) – After wowing evaluators of the implementation in Bicol of the foreign-supported Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP), its implementers are seeking for additional financing as they commit to sustain if not surpass the project’s accomplishments for the next wave of evaluations.

Last August, the 1st World Bank Implementation Support Mission conducted the evaluation and gave the project implementation in the region a satisfactory rating based on its favorable disbursement rate.

Shandy Hubilla, PRDP Project Support Office (PSO) South Luzon Cluster director, here on Wednesday said the measure of success in project implementation is not the obligation but the disbursement status and as of the recent evaluation, Bicol was able to obligate 32 percent of its Php17.3-million target with a disbursement rate of 63 percent.

PRDP is a foreign-funded program being implemented by Department of Agriculture (DA) as a platform for a modern and climate smart agriculture in the region and other parts of the country.

Its national implementation carries a Php27.535-billion total fund, consisting of Php20.553 billion loan from the World Bank, Php3.579 billion as national government counterpart, Php3.118 billion equity of the local government units and Php287-million grant from the Global Environment Facility.

It involves 80 provincial local government units and agri-fishery stakeholders nationwide in an attempt to realize the goals of improved food security and increased incomes, climate resiliency and enhanced environmental policies and governance.

In six years—2013-2019, the project aims to raise annual real farm incomes of household beneficiaries by five percent, increase the value of annual marketed output by seven percent and ensure that 20 percent more farmers and fishers benefit from DA services.

According to DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas, the lion's share of the PRDP funding for this year worth Php638.4 million has been awarded to Bicol as the region’s share in the Php11.02-billion Intensified Building up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development funds to finance a total of 195 sub-projects proposed by local government units (LGUs).

Bragas has expressed optimism that the PRDP will transform the rural areas into dynamic and competent growth points for agricultural development as the national government pursues inclusive growth that should be felt down to the remotest and smallest rural barangay.

But, Hubilla said, the National Project Coordination Office’s (NPCO) is requesting additional financing worth 0 million as a guaranteed additional budget available after January 2016 to realize PRDP’s firm commitments to LGUs’ requests for infrastructure projects.

He emphasized that the South Luzon Cluster has to achieve about Php500 million disbursements by June 2016 from the requested additional financing, adding that PRDP is hoping that the request will be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority board before June 2016.

Elena De los Santos, DA regional technical director and deputy project director, said the request for additional fund was discussed during the 2nd Coordination Meeting held on October 28-29, 2015 in Quezon City.

Also discussed, she said, were the action plans of the region which include hiring additional staff to enterprise development, monitoring and evaluation, and reviewing and validating sub-project proposals.

The region also commits to designate provincial coordinators from the infrastructure development group to be responsible in generating reports on sub-projects status and the Regional Project Coordination Office (RPCO) for Bicol will fast track the conduct of training on proponent group profiling and mapping.

The RPCO is also determined to make its financial processes more effective and efficient through clear-cut work and financial plan as well as procurement plan, De los Santos said.

Also highlighted during the coordination meeting were the findings and recommendations generated from the 1st WB Implementation Support Mission held on August 25-28, 2015 in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan for each component, catch-up plans to address the findings, and the third quarter accomplishments of the cluster and the RPCOs.

During the meeting, Hubilla said, he instructed the RPCOs to put the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with provincial local government unit partners on top of its order of priorities.

Currently, three provinces of Bicol-- Albay, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte -- have signed MOAs with PRDP while the revised MOA with Catanduanes was already endorsed to PSO for Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s signature.

The region is working on two MOAs with municipal LGUs namely Placer and Esperanza, Masbate.

Hubilla stressed the need to fast track the hiring of additional staff as this directly impacts the accomplishment of target outputs.

He also informed the RPCOs that the WB may conduct random inspection to infrastructure and enterprise development hence, sub-project preparations and urgent solutions to quality and workmanship issues must be implemented. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD