Project implementation

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, July 28, 2014


DURING the year, government departments spend money which was allocated to them as a result of budgetary discussions that took place in the previous year.

We do not think it is clever for a department to underspend. Why is this happening? Knowledge of underspending is as important as knowledge of recipients of the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP). Which results from underspending.

I have long been concerned about the Department of Education (DepEd). Is this one of the underspenders? If so, why? DepEd seems to be handing out the begging bowl for routine school building projects which should be, and I believe is, part of its normal budget. Government needs to be very clear about the costs of what parts of the school building program should be shouldered by DepEd and what, if any, should be supported by local government entities. Why should the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) be paying for school classrooms? We would rather that Pagcor pays its proper taxes instead.

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We are grateful to the private sector for its helpful contribution to the school building program. Over the years, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (FFCCCII) has been particularly generous. Would it not be more helpful, however, if FFCCCII spent money on projects, though useful, that are perhaps beyond what we could reasonably expect from DepEd? For example, advanced laboratory equipment for science projects would result in graduates who are more accomplished in science and technology.

Recently, Philam Life, through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) function donated three classrooms to Taguig National High School. Since attendance at the school for students within the catchment area is deemed to be compulsory, it is incumbent on DepEd, not Philam Life to provide necessary classrooms. There is much that an organization’s CSR function can achieve. In the case of Philam Life, why not endow a Professional Chair in Actuarial Studies at the University of the Philippines? This would be extremely useful though it is unlikely that funding could be provided by government which has the daunting challenge of ensuring that our 21 million students have sufficient infrastructure to receive the Constitutionally-specified “quality” education.

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There are those who criticize the Supreme Court (SC) for its DAP ruling. It has been said that the government’s infrastructure-building program has been paralyzed by the finding that DAP is substantially unconstitutional. There is no paralysis. What we need is greater care in budget preparation so that a viable set of projects can be implemented in the following year. Then we can have an optimum economic growth rate.

The SC’s resolution does not hamper economic growth. It only hampers corruption opportunities.

‘OPPORTUNITY MAKES A THIEF’ - Francis Bacon (1561-1626), [A letter of advice to the Earl of Essex (1598)]

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 28, 2014.

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