Board Member Jose Falcon, chair of the provincial board's finance committee, said they granted South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes the authority to forge a loan agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) to finance the purchase of at least 17 light to heavy equipment.
Falcon said the loan will be used to purchase three motor graders, two backhoe excavators, six 4×2 dump trucks, five 4×4 dump trucks and one bulldozer.
Based on the proposed scheme set by Landbank, the loan will reportedly be payable in five years at interest of about eight percent per year.
Falcon said the proposed P130 million loan is within the debt cap for local government units, at 20 percent of its annual budget.
Based on the province's approved budget of P654 million for this year, the proposed loan amount is about a third of the debt cap.
“Our equipment pool is presently short-handed and it's the main reason why some major works, especially the repair and rehabilitation of roads and infrastructure that were damaged by the floods had been hampered,” he said.
Citing a report from the Provincial Engineering Office, Falcon said the province currently has 31 light to heavy equipment on its pool.
But he said 15 of the equipment are currently defective and need immediate repair and rehabilitation.
Several parts of the province were hit by heavy flooding last year due to the unusually intense rainy spells and the passing of typhoons.
The floods damaged major roads and bridges and vast tracts of farmlands in the municipalities of Polomolok, Tantangan, Surallah, T'boli and Sto. Nino.
A report earlier released by the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council of Region 12 placed the damage to infrastructure in the province at P51.45 million due to the effects of typhoon Frank last year.
With the upgrading of the provincial government's equipment pool, Gov. Fuentes said she has instructed the Provincial Engineering Office to hasten the ongoing repairs of various damaged infrastructure and roads in the province.
“We're expecting more rains in the coming months so it's very important that we complete these projects as soon as possible and at the same be ready with our equipment in case another major calamity strikes,” she said.
The governor added that the provincial government will continue the rehabilitation of river banks this year of the critical Allah and Banga rivers, which triggered major flooding at the height of the rainy spells last year. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)