THE Cebu City Council yesterday questioned how the Local School Board (LSB) will implement its programs and projects for education this year when there are only limited funds for it.

Councilor Margarita Osmeña said there is only almost P9 million available money under the Special Education Fund (SEF). SEF amounts to about one percent of the total real property tax collections.

In a privilege speech yesterday, Osmeña, who is the chairperson of the council’s committee on budget and finance, said there is a total of P385 million budget set aside for SEF this year.

Quoting LSB head Raddy Diola in a story published by Sun.Star Cebu on Monday titled “Where will SEF go?”, the amount will cover the P149.5 million for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), P53.9 million for capital outlay, P33 million for personnel services, P68.4 million for elementary schools and P80 million for secondary schools.

However, Osmeña said that as of the daily cash report from the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) dated May 21 this year, the City’s SEF is only at P174.28 million.

Of the total amount, she added that P165.3 million is placed in a time deposit. Half of the amount will mature in December yet, while the other half will mature by January next year.

“This, therefore, leaves only P8.97 million, which can be used now,” Osmeña said.

“Perhaps, instead of ‘Where will SEF go?’, the headline of Monday’s newspaper should have read ‘Where is the SEF?’” she added.

Progam

Sought for comment about the matter, Diola told reporters yesterday that the P385 million is what had been certified by the CTO as budget for SEF and that is also what they have programmed for this year.

When told that some of the funds have been placed under time deposit, Diola said it will already end in December this year.

He added, though, that their projects, such as construction of additional classrooms, are not only funded by the SEF.

He said there is already a P175-million budget set aside by the National Government for new classrooms this year. It will be equivalent to 150 additional classrooms.

Diola said it is not true that only P9 million is available under the SEF. He said there is a P50-million budget intended for the senior high school.

“So that’s on top of the time deposit. Sa SEF gihapon na. I don’t know where her figure comes from,” he said.

Osmeña asked the CTO yesterday, though, to report to the council how much has so far been collected for the SEF this year.

In the same privilege speech, Osmeña told the members of the legislative body that the P165 million was placed in a time deposit in late 2010 and early 2011 by former city treasurer Ofelia Oliva under the general fund.

This was subsequently transferred to the SEF account on April 1 last year by Acting City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas.

Offshoot to report

Osmeña said this may have been an offshoot to the Commission on Audit’s observation under the 2013 annual audit report calling the attention of the City Government for its failure to transfer to the SEF account some P153 million, which is a violation of the Local Government Code.

In the same audit report, COA said some payments under the SEF were found to be “unnecessary and excessive” such as the P1.2 million for raffle draw and P1.7 million for other activities during the Teacher’s Day.