Gov't ups poverty alleviation budget
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (28 September) -- To further strengthen the government's hunger and poverty mitigation measures, President Arroyo has increased in 2008 the budget for her Food-for-School Program (FSP), the Tindahan Natin and Barangay Food Terminals (BFTs).
The FSP allocation will be up to P3.3 billion next year from P2.75 billion this year or a jump of 1.2 percent.
The government has allocated P181 million for other hunger mitigating measures, resulting in the establishment of 6,583 Tindahan Natin outlets in the most depressed areas in 52 provinces nationwide.
Before the yearends 200 more Tindahan Natin outlets would be established in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, the Department of Agriculture has opened 20 BFTs in Quezon City, Manila, Taguig, Pasay, Caloocan, Navotas and Bulacan to provide residents of these areas direct access to low-priced farm products such as meat and vegetables.
Around 400,000 families or more than two million individuals in Metro Manila and in the poorest provinces directly benefit from the BFTs, according to DA Secretary Arthur Yap.
The BFTs are expected to increase to 60 before the year ends.
On a related move, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P81.63 million as counterpart funding to ensure this year's implementation of five projects of the Department of Agriculture under a 300-million yen grant from the Japanese government that aims to benefit farmers living the poverty line.
This yen grant is known as the Japan Grant Assistance fund under privileged farmers otherwise known as the 2KK, is being handled by DA's National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC).
Among the recipients of the yen grant is DA's BFTs, the Regional Fresh Water Fisheries Center's Continuing Capability for an Integrated Development of Bicol, Freshwater Fisheries Project, post harvest facilities and other relevant facilities, the rehabilitation of Agno River Irrigation System in Juro Iloilo, the Assessment of the Agricultural and Fishery Council (AFCs) as Social Mobilization Agents and the Expanded Special Vehicle Loan Fund.
The Philippines which has been a recipient of the Tokyo aid since l977, was selected by Japan last December as one of six countries eligible for this grant.
The 2KK grant, which is equivalent to $2.59 million, was approved by Japan last December. Japanese Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo signed the exchange of notes on this accord last March.
The government's war on hunger and poverty has resulted in a significant drop in the hunger incidence from 19 percent in the first quarter of 2007 to 17.7 percent in the second quarter. (PIA La Union) [top]