DBM-approved budget only a third of what UP needs
◢ CAMILLE LITA
The UP administration has asked for a sizeable P44.5 billion purse next year to fund an aggressive infrastructure campaign, but the Department of Budget and Management has appropriated only a third of UP’s highest proposed budget in history.
Under the 2018 National Expenditures Program (NEP), the DBM approved only a total of P14.4 billion for the UP system’s eight constituent units and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Although marginally higher than this year’s P13.08 billion, the said appropriation for this year is only a third of the proposed budget UP submitted to the budget agency in March.
Personnel services (PS) will get the biggest budget allocation amounting to P10.3 billion, which covers funding for salaries and other incentives for faculty and other UP employees. Maintenance and other operating expenditures (MOOE) will have an allocation of P2.9 billion, which covers funding for utility bills, supplies, and other similar expenses.
Capital outlay (CO) meanwhile is set to shoulder the brunt of the budget cut, getting only P1.1 bllion of the P26 billion proposed by UP.
Highest proposed budget ever
UP’s proposed P44.5-billion budget for 2018 is about 70 percent higher than its proposed 2017 budget of P26.2 billion. UP President Danilo Concepcion’s aggressive infrastructure campaign has the lion’s share of UP’s proposed budget next year, at P26 billion or almost 60 percent of the total proposed budget. There are a total of 83 infrastructure projects across the system under the proposed CO.
In the 2018 NEP, however, DBM allocated, only P1.1 billion for CO, thumbing down all of UP’s big-ticket infrastructure projects. One such project is the construction of the Cancer Care Center in the PGH, which targets to reduce premature cancer mortality by up to 25 percent. The CCC is also the biggest project of UP at P1.6 billion.
Another big project for 2018 is the construction of a multipurpose hall and football stadium in the 20-hectare land of UP Mindanao, with a budget allotment of P300 million for the first phase of its project. Around 10 households were displaced to give way for the project, said UP Mindanao Student Council Vice Chair Isaiah Baluso.
“Wala naman kaming contentions kung totoong magagamit siya ng students. Sana mas inuna ng UP ang laboratories, libraries, at theater halls ng UP Mindanao kasi dapat priority ang academic use ng lands,” Baluso added.
The UP administration’s aggressive campus development reflects the priorities of the university, said Student Regent Raoul Danniel Manuel. “A better budget should gear towards the accessible services like the education of UP students and [free] medical services [for] patients of the PGH.”
Additional funding for UP however is possible, as the NEP is still undergoing budget deliberations and will go through both houses before being signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the year ends.
Duterte himself may initiate amendments to provide additional budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs), said Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago.
If Congress enacts a budget that does not cover all UP’s needs, the university will be forced to realign the approved 2018 GAA budget, rechanneling funds from Personnel Services to other items. “[I]t is not something new [and] it is a normal part of the processes in the government,” said UP Vice President for Public Affairs Jose Dalisay, Jr.
Budget for free tuition
Of the 2018 national budget amounting to P3.767 trillion, a total of P691.1 billion make up the combined budget allotment for the education sector which is 27 percent more than last year’s P543.2 billion. The country’s 113 SUCs need a total funding of P16 billion for the next academic year, said Elago.
If the amount allotted for UP falls short of fully implementing the forthcoming guidelines on the recently passed free education law, Malacañang plans to submit a supplemental budget of P200 billion, said Senate Regent Francis Escudero in the BOR meeting on April 27.
For this academic year, UP decided to shoulder the cost of implementing the free tuition policy, drawing funds from budget realignments and savings, Dalisay said.
Tuition and other school fees collected from students and hospital fees from PGH have been the top sources of UP’s internally generated income, according to the Budget Expenditures and Sources of Finance of DBM.
As of now, UP waits for the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the free tertiary education law.
The student regent however has lamented the limited participation of students in the budget process, saying only top UP officials were consulted. UP President Concepcion and Vice President for Planning and Finance Joselito Florendo have the final verdict, and the proposed budget was a “finished product” that was no longer open for revision when presented in the BOR, Manuel explained. ■
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