Response to Aquino government lies about SUC budget cuts
ON “GHOST” BUDGET CUTS
We allocated P23.4 billion to 112 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in 2011. This is 1.7 percent lower than the P23.8 billion budget for 2010. We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.
– Pres. Noynoy Aquino in his Budget message (August 24, 2010)
President Aquino said it himself. Before we challenged the budget cuts, he proclaimed the truth about the government’s real intentions. It was when we began speaking up when the government began singing different, and often conflicting, tunes to cover up the President.
**Estimated real value of state subsidy based on government’s Consumer Price Index, according to the value of the peso in the year 2000 (rounded-off to the nearest hundreds).
Despite nominal increases in state subsidies through the decade, its actual worth or value is decreasing because of inflation. It becomes even more grossly insufficient taking into consideration the growing number of programs and students in state universities through the years.
One component of any government’s agency’s budget is MOOE or Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses. The MOOE of state universities for 2011 will be cut by a whopping P1.1 billion. Even if the government justifies the budget cut by claiming that much of the “cut” was a result of the non-inclusion of completed infrastructure projects (like new buildings) or the non-inclusion of “congressional insertions” in 2010 (which were all in the form of “Capital Outlay”), we cannot ignore the real cut on MOOE, which represents the funds allocated for the operations of the various services of government agencies, from payments of utilities such as water and electricity, to purchases of office and laboratory supplies.
Taking into consideration that the value of money decreases as time goes by due to inflation, it can be seen that as computed against the government’s Consumer Price Index, the state subsidy for the operations of state universities would be at its lowest in 2011. Click here for the full list of state universities with their corresponding cuts in MOOE, as proposed by the Aquino administration. Click here for the full budget briefer on SUC’s.
To claim that SUC’s can and should generate their own income is to affirm the inevitable tuition (and other fees) increase that always comes with or after a budget cut. DBM Secretary Abad and Malacanang Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda have often been quoted as saying schools should increase tuition instead of asking for more state subsidy.
Ayala pays only P160 million per year for the lease of the UP-AyalaLand Technohub, a rather small amount compared to the P18 billion – the UP administration estimate of what UP needs annually. This means UP has to build more than 100 huge commercial centers to augment insufficient state subsidy.
Billions of unused savings and funds?
As affirmed by the Dean of the UP College of Home Economics. “Do not be decieved when you read in the papers today that ‘UP has P11 billion in income that is not plowed back to the national treasury’. That P11 billion constitute endowment funds obtained from private donors which are for specific purposes such as professorial chairs that administrators cannot use for MOOE, Equipment Outlay or Capital Outlay.”
ON PRIORITIZING BASIC EDUCATION FIRST
They say, the Department of Education budget was increased from P175 billion to P207.27 billion = +P32 billion. Of this, P23 billion is in the form of an increase in salaries because of the Salary Standardization Law, of which Pres. Aquino cannot take any credit because it is automatic.
The rest of the P9 billion increase will go to:
- 18,000 new classrooms, while the shortage is pegged at more than 152,000
- Target additional armchairs is about 1 million while the shortage is at a staggering 13 million.
- Only 32 million new textbooks are planned to be purchased while the current shortage is at 95 million.
- Target for new teachers meanwhile is only 10,000 when the shortage is 103,000.
Government is to spend only P5.79 per day per Filipino for basic education.
THE REAL PRIORITIES
Pitting state universities and basic education against each other, where contradiction shouldn’t exist in the first place, is a ploy to divide the education sector and to serve as a smokescreen to the real priorities of the government. What are they trying to cover up?
- Pork barrel funds for legislators will be increased by more than P13.9 billion for a total of P24.8 billion.
- Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be given an additional P2 billion in pork barrel funds.
- Lump-sum (read: corruption) funds for 2011 total P245 billion. Of this amount, P68 billion represents audit-free Presidential pork barrel.
- Dole-out and patronage funds under the Conditional Cash Transfer program of the DSWD has a budget of P29 billion.
- The military, notorious for violating human rights and killing civilians, will be awarded a P10 billion increase in its budget for a total of P104.7 billion.
- Debt servicing eats the chunk of the budget, getting an increase of P80.9 billion with P823 billion in total spending for both interest payments and principal amortization.