Youth representative bares state schools’ budget cover up-A A +A
Friday, August 24, 2012
KABATAAN Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino exposes alleged various cover ups and deceptions in the proposed budget increase of the country’s State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) by 2013.
President Benigno Aquino III pronounced earlier that the country’s 110 SUCs will receive a bulky increase in their budget next year. The budget was proposed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
In his 2013 budget message, Aquino said, “Hindi po pinababayaan ng aking administrasyon ang ating mga pampublikong pamantasan, at higit sa lahat, ang mga iskolar ng bayan.”
He explained that DBM increased the allocation for SUCs by almost 44 percent or P11.3 billion. The fund will increase from P25.8 billion to P37.1 billion.
However, Palatino pointed out some loopholes of the proposed funds during the congressional budget deliberation on the proposed allocation for the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and SUCs last August 21.
Palatino said the P37.1 billion budget is still grossly insufficient and is actually driving state schools to further its commercialization schemes, which include tuition increases and other income-generating activities.
“At first glance, it seems that the government is shifting its earlier pronouncement that it will gradually reduce state funding for SUCs to force them to utilize their internal income. Such move is a direct response to the clamor of students who have arduously fought for greater state subsidy in the past years. However, instead of being all praises for the Aquino administration, students remain unimpressed and dismayed, as the 2013 budget is a cover-up budget full of potholes and deceptions,” Palatino said.
He said not the whole P37.1 billion will go to SUCs. “If we remove the automatic appropriations for employees’ pension and the funds that are actually part of the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), we would see that SUCs will actually get only P32.7 billion.
Moreover, he added of the P37.1 billion proposed budget for SUCs, P2.1 billion is allotted for retirement and life insurance premiums (RLIP). “This is an automatic obligation of the government and is actually not part of the operating budget for SUCs.”
Meanwhile, he further stated, “The P2.2 billion is set aside and is part of the MPBF, which is the fund for unfilled positions in SUCs. DBM withholds this budget not unless SUCs request for its utilization given proper documentation. As we pointed out before, this fund is like DBM’s own pork barrel, which it can dispense at its whim. SUCs will only receive P32.7 billion, up by only 37 percent from the current P23.8 billion budget.
“There might be a nominal increase, but if we consider how much SUCs actually need, it is still grossly insufficient,” added Palatino.
SUCs requested a total of P54.6 billion for SUCs 2013 fund, however, only P37.1 billion or almost 68 percent was approved by DBM for inclusion in the national expenditure program.
Without the fund for RLIP, the fund for salaries and benefits of teachers and employees of SUCs, which falls under the personal services component, there is a P2.35 billion or an 11 percent increase to P22.97 billion from the current P20.62 billion budget.
“However, this increase only corresponds to the implementation of the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law III next year,” said Palatino.
The fund for maintenance and other operating expenses is set to increase by P3.42 billion or over 88 percent. It will increase to P6.43 billion from the current P3 billion budgets.
Bulk of the increase or P1.3 billion will go to the University of the Philippines while the remaining P2.1 billion increase will be shared by over 100 SUCs in the country.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 24, 2012.