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DepEd conveys need for extension of 2017 budget utilization
As the Department of Education (DepEd) acknowledges the crucial effort of the Congress to source funding for the implementation of Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, it will push for the extension of validity of the 2017 budget.
The Department conveyed the intent to the Senate Committee on Finance on September 25, Monday.
DepEd is among the agencies being eyed by the Congress for budget cut to fund the free tuition law next year, P30 billion of which will be carved from the Department’s School Building Program (SBP).
Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones further clarified that she is not against the reduction, if necessary, to fund tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs): “Palagay ko hindi naman masama na libre ang college education pero kailangan tingnan natin nang maayos kung ano ang circumstances bakit DepEd ang tinitingnan na source ng funding for SUCs.”
However, the Department cannot allow learners to bear the brunt of a lapsed budget, especially now that DepEd is recovering from underspending with a 90% utilization rate for the 2016 appropriation and has begun reforms to hasten the program implementation of 2017.
“Learners are being penalized for inherited institutional problems that was impossible to address in one year. If DepEd’s 2018 funds will be reduced by almost P30 billion, we should be granted one year extension of the remaining MOOE and CO funds of 2017,” the Education chief pointed out.
Given the magnitude of the Department, the one-year budget implementation presented challenges. Among the items with tight remaining procurement timeline are textbooks, Technical-Vocational Livelihood (TVL) tools and equipment, school furniture, and computerization program. In case of failure, big ticket programs will be unable to accommodate rebids or to bid out realized savings, which could also be large and can still accommodate funding for allocations programmed for 2018.
The Department’s underspending, a perennial challenge tied to several laws, is now gradually being overcome by the current administration through the implementation of internal financial reforms and strengthened coordination with partner agencies in the delivery of services.
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