MANILA — Even as relief operations are ongoing, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is spearheading the development of a recovery and reconstruction plan to restore normalcy in regions hit by Typhoon Yolanda and help get the affected local economies back on their feet.

In a meeting yesterday, the Economic Development Cluster of the Cabinet formed an interagency task force to craft the plan, focusing on immediate and near-term actions needed to rebuild facilities, restore social services and revive economic activities. The plan, which will be presented to the President in two to three weeks’ time, will be implemented immediately following relief operations in affected areas.

“It is important to quickly assess the damage and losses and to determine the right sequence of government actions,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan. He added that the recovery plan will address social and economic impact of the typhoon.

Based on preliminary data on the damage and production losses, NEDA estimates indicate that the fourth quarter 2013 growth could slow down to 4.1 percent but the negative impact of the typhoon may linger in 2014 due to reduced production capacity. The full year GDP growth for 2013 could be reduced by 0.3 to 0.8 percentage point, lowering growth estimates to 6.5 percent to 7 percent. Prior to the onset of calamities, the Philippine economy was expected to grow by 7.3 percent for 2013, after registering a 7.6 percent growth in the first half of the year.

“To ensure that we regain lost ground the soonest, we need to accelerate the implementation of social and economic development projects, particularly in the affected provinces,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said the Yolanda recovery and reconstruction plan aims to speed up government operations to enhance delivery of services in the affected areas; find and develop resettlement sites; and restore public utilities and facilities using upgraded standards. “These actions must be completed in the shortest possible time, to restore people’s means of livelihood and revive economic and business activities,” Balisacan said.

The plan also aims to assist in the social and psychological recovery of individuals and communities affected. “It is easier to recover economic losses; it is the social cost that is harder and will take longer to reverse,” the NEDA Director General added.

The task force created by the Economic Development Cluster will prepare a detailed master plan, indicating short-term and long-term actions. Immediate actions include assessment of damage to infrastructure and preparation of more resilient design standards for infrastructure projects. These will be used in the rehabilitation and construction of critical infrastructure such as housing, roads and bridges, hospitals, provincial, city and municipal halls, seaports and airports, public markets, water supply and distribution systems, irrigation systems, power, telecommunications as well as other government offices and facilities.