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P4.5B from VAT for anti-poverty projects

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:30:00 10/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has earmarked a P4.5-billion windfall from collections of the Value Added Tax (VAT) for various poverty-alleviation projects, officials said.

At the same time, Cabinet official firmed up livelihood projects and emergency job programs for the poor and middle class who could be hit by the global financial crisis, officials said.

The government’s VAT collections reached P22 billion in the third quarter, overshooting the P13.98-billion target and resulting in a P8.1 billion windfall, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said.

Of the P8.1 billion, P4 billion was allotted for pro-poor projects with another P500-million from the second quarter windfall added, Teves told a news conference at the Palace.

The government will spend P2 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s FIELDS (fertilizer, irrigation, extension, loans, dryers and other post harvest facilities and hybrid seeds) program, Teves said.

A supplemental feeding program and an early recovery fund for conflict-affected areas will each get P500 million, Teves added.

The P500 power subsidy for households consuming the least electricity will receive P400 million, while the competitiveness fund of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will get P600 million, he said.

The government will spend the remaining P500 million to build school houses, Teves said.

“The bigger picture is, because of the difficult times and because of the katas [fruits] of VAT, we have funds to focus on the most vulnerable sectors of society,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said.

Dureza could not immediately give an estimate of the cost of the livelihood and emergency jobs projects, funding for which will be sourced from the savings of line agencies.

He said each Cabinet member was assigned a region. Being a native of Davao, the Press Secretary said he was assigned to Region XI or the Davao Region.

Teves said he was assigned to Negros Island in the Central Visayas.

In his area of assignment, Dureza said he has readied a “Bantay Dagat [Sea Watch]” which will draft the poor to guard against pollution and illegal fishing.

The middle class, he said, will be involved in the trade department’s “One Town, One Product” program, and could be employed as eco-tourism guides.

Teves said he was looking at piggeries in his area.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-10-28T12:44:41+00:00UTC10bUTCTue, 28 Oct 2008 12:44:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm10

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