THE Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (Tesda) will have an austere 16th founding anniversary celebration today, Wednesday, as this year’s budget was slashed by P2 million from the previous celebration.

The budget for last year’s anniversary celebration under then Tesda director general Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco cost around P10 million.

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Tesda chief Joel Villanueva said that instead of extravagant festivities, they will have “select and focused” activities geared for its customers --schools and training centers, students and trainees, partners in government and the private sector as well as an outreach activity dubbed “Tesda Serbisyo Barangay” to be held in one of Taguig City’s poorest community.

“This is the first anniversary celebration of Tesda that I will preside over as the new Director General, and because of the fiscal crisis that the government is in now, I find it necessary to rethink the way we observe some regular organization events, including our foundation anniversary,” Villanueva said.

“Tesda anniversaries, under my watch, will be fittingly celebrated the new way austere but meaningful celebrations,” he added.

Aside from the outreach program at Barangay Napindan, Taguig, which will benefit some 150 children other activities lined up will be the awarding ceremonies for Tesa’s outstanding partner and best practices, a sportsfest, skills competition and seminars as well as the search for model employees.

Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa will serve as the event’s guest speaker.

Earlier, Villanueva had ordered an audit of some P5 billion in scholarship funds utilized from 2008 to 2009 amid reports that some of the money went to fly-by-night schools and ghost scholars.

Figures released by the agency showed that of the more than 740,000 Tesda scholars in training centers and partner schools in that period, only 113,710 got jobs after they graduated.

Malacanang has allocated P700 million for Tesda’s scholarship program next year.

He also cancelled the P39 million purchase of allegedly overpriced training tools and P73 million worth of computers and other Information Technology (IT) products. (AH/Sunnex)