FREE

The proposed 2018 Budget  does not have the P8B earmarked for free higher education in state universities and colleges in the 2017 budget.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Karlo Nograles confirmed this at the start of the panel’s deliberations for next year’s budget.

“siguro tinitignan nila nakaraang budget nung 2017 may nakalaan 8B sa free higher education dito naman sa budget na ito di nila nakikita yan kung maaalala niyo 2017 yang 8B originally wala sa budget presentation ng DBM ito nangyari lang at naipasok during the bicam”

Nograles believes the administration carried over their original budget proposal for 2017 which did not have the budget for free higher education which was a mere insertion made by lawmakers at the bicameral conference committee last year.

Speaking at the Budget briefing, Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno said implementing the government’s free college tuition program will cost about 100B annually. “We estimated that the cost of this bill …it will cost us P100 billion, and hindi po kaya ng gobyerno ‘yan,” 

National Economic Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia also believed government would find it hard to sustain the budget for free tuition.“The budget for free tuition is quite large, it’s not pittance, it’s going to be unsustainable over time,” Pernia said.

Nograles however believes lawmakers can still work on the funding. “ngayon maaga pa naman kakasimula pa lang ng budget hearings dadaan pa sa cmte level, papasok sa plenaryo papasok sa ensedao may bicam pa mahaba ang panahaon maraming pagkakataon na maipasok itong kung ito ay pagdedesisyunan ng HoR at ng Senado. so tignan natin kung ano ang mangyayari mula ngayon hanggang sa ending may mga pagkakataon na baka maibalik ang pondo sa free higher education.”

The Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act was approved  by Congress in May and is awaiting the  President’s signature or It will lapse into law on August 5.

Nograles however doesnt think beneficiaries of free higher education have anything to worry about as there are existing funds in the proposed budget that can sustain the free ugher education program.meron pa nakalaan naman sa budget ng CHED meron silang pondo para sa scholarships ang UNIFAST merong pondo ang CHED sa UNIFAST..seks to categorize at buuin ang pondo para sa iba ibang scholarship programs..account nila buuin nila isahin nila pagbigay ng scholarships CHED merong tulong dunong naging basis kasi ng CHED pati DBM  yung proposal nung 2017. 8B naipasok namin sa bicam during the bicam yan hinahanap ngayon saan napunta 8B”

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago questioned the fact that the national government proposes to spend over P1 trillion in infrastructure projects, but zero for free public college, a move that abruptly discontinues the introduction of free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs) that is set to only begin this year.

“The 2018 fiscal program indicates a target 3-percent of GDP deficit amounting to P523.6 billion. To finance this, the national government intends to borrow an additional P888.2 billion in both domestic and foreign sources. Perusing through the list of program loans in the budget books, it is notable that many of the items that will be funded by loans are infrastructure projects, as part of President Duterte’s call to ‘build, build, build.’”

“The president also said in his budget message that his government intends to spend a total of P8.1 trillion – trillion – for infrastructure from 2017 to 2022. Hindi naman po kaila sa atin na maraming anomalya sa gobyerno, kabilang na ang kickbacks, overpricing o patong, at pork barrel ay nagmumula sa infrastructure projects. With the national government intending to spend over a trillion pesos in 2018 and up to P8.1 trillion from 2017 to 2022 for infrastructure, wala pong kasiguruhan ang mamamayan na hindi lang basta maibubulsa, pagkakakakitaan, o kung anumang himala pa ang puntahan ng badyet para sa infrastructure.” Elago stressed.

The youth solon noted how this fact stands in stark contrast to the exclusion of any allocation to sustain the free tuition for SUCs in the 2018 budget, despite the fact that Congress has already transmitted a consolidated bill about it for the president’s signature.

“Worse, the budget books show that DBM expects SUCs to increase tuition collection from the estimated P7.8 billion in 2017 to P9.1 billion in 2018, a whopping 16.2 percent increase. Di na nga popondohan ang free tuition ulit, mukhang nagbibigay pa ng signal ang DBM na magtaas ng singil sa matrikula ang ating mga pampublikong pamantasan sa susunod na taon.”

“This representation is deeply appalled by the manner in which this national government is willing to borrow billions to fund various infrastructure projects, without any assurance that no peso will go to the pockets of the unscrupulous, while the administration abruptly defunds the free tuition policy,” Elago pointed out.###

The Duterte Administration’s Economic Managers presented the 2018 Budget to the committee today. they were led by Bangko Sentral Governor Nestor Espenilla, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Enesto Pernia.

The budget hearings began with a briefing by members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), the inter-agency body that determines the overall economic targets, expenditure levels, and sources of funds.

The DBCC recommends to the President the following: level of annual government expenditures and the ceiling of government spending for economic and social development, national defense, and government debt service; proper allocation of expenditures for each development activity between current operating expenditures and capital outlays; and amount set to be allocated for capital outlays broken down into the various capital or infrastructure projects.

 The education sector will get the biggest chunk of the budget with a funding of P691.1 billion broken down as follows: Department of Education (DepED), P613.1 billion; Commission on Higher Education (CHED), P13.5 billion; and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), P64.6 billion.

 

The other agencies with the highest budgetary allocations are: Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),P643.3 billion; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), P172.3 billion; Department of Health (DOH), P164.3 billion; Department of National Defense (DND), P145 billion; Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), P138 billion; Department of Transportation (DOTr), P73.8 billion; Department of Agriculture (DA), P54.2 billion; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), P33.5 billion; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), P27.9 billion. 

The 2018 proposed national budget is P3.767 trillion