BUDGET Secretary Butch Abad said parents, students, and school officials should not be alarmed over the proposals of the education department to add two years to the basic education in the country because such measure will not be immediately implemented. 


“The proposal has to be studied very well,” he said.

However, he added that there is certainly a need for the country to extend the basic education cycle. 

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“I think that, other than Mongolia, we are the only country in the world that still operates within the 10-year basic education cycle. We are not in a position to complete all the academic requirements in a period of 10 years. There is a need to do it 12 years,” Abad stated.  

He acknowledged the need to create the necessary environment to make the increase of two years meaningful.  

“You cannot increase the basic education period to 12 years if you still have serious gaps in the number of classrooms and teachers, or if your teachers are not trained well, if you lack textbooks and if the quality of textbooks is wanting. These are the things that have to come together. The measure will not be implemented right away. It will be done in stages,” the budget secretary explained. 


Abad was in the province Wednesday to address the National Convention of the Association of Government Budget Administrators at L’Fisher Hotel, Bacolod City. 


He also met with Governor Alfredo Marañon to confer how the DBM could better serve the province and he also observed the Procurement Depot at the Provincial Capitol Building, which is a pioneering project of the province under the late Governor Joseph G. Marañon, the elder brother of the current governor.


Procurement depot

Abad was impressed by the operations of the procurement depot, saying that it is a novel innovation of the government procurement system, which goes a long way in saving government money. 

Through the Procurement Depot, the DBM was able to supply the regular requirements of government offices to the tune of P3 billion, it was revealed. 


Abad said that the government’s total expense for items like office supplies comes up to about P22 million. On the average, the government saves about 36 percent on the cost of supplies because of the procurement depot. 

Based on the report of the provincial procurement depot, it saved the government 36 percent and even as high as 70 percent on the prevailing market cost of supplies. 

The procurement depot is unlike most government offices because of its lean but very efficient staff. Moreover, it generates returns for the government, thereby making it a self-liquidating entity.


Abad acknowledged the pioneering effort of the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental in establishing the very first provincial procurement depot all over the country.

Other regions and provinces followed suit after the tremendous success of Negros Occidental’s endeavor. This month, Bukidnon and Capiz are slated to open their own procurement depots, Abad said. 


From 2004 up to 2010, the province’s procurement depot sales pegged at P193.74 million. Its clients included the Provincial Government itself, Bago City, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Silay City, PhilHealth, Pag-Ibig-Bacolod, San Carlos City, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Carlos Hilado Memorial State College, Himamaylan City, and Talisay City. 


Marañon is also suggesting that the procurement will be expanded to cover other items that are regularly required by provinces like hospital equipment, medicines and even hardware. 


Budget Deficit  


Abad said that government expects the deficit this year will run up to P325 billion, while that of next year is eyed to be reduced to about P290 billion. 

This year, that would be about 3.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and, next year, it will be about 3.2 percent of GDP, according to Abad. 


“That’s why part of our fiscal responsibility is that we are not going to allow purchase of new vehicles. There will be no new constructions of offices, except construction of classrooms, public health care facilities, farm to market roads, roads and bridges. We will not allow increases in monthly operating expenses and overhead expenses. We will require the government-owned and controlled corporations and the government financial institutions to spend from their income, rather than request funding from the government. The only exceptions that we will provide will be the hiring of new personnel, such as the teachers and police, which is required by the increasing population,” said Abad. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)