MANILA — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) proposed a budget of Php 3.5 billion for 2015 during its budget hearing Tuesday at the House of Representatives.
The proposed outlay for next year is less than half of the Commission’s 2014 budget of Php 8 billion.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) explained that the 43 percent decline in CHED’s 2015 budget is brought about by several factors such as the removal of the allocation for the Philippine-California Advanced Research Initiative (PCARI), “absorption capacity” of the agency, and other bureaucratic issues.
PCARI is an initiative in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) which aims to fund research projects related to translational medicine and information infrastructure development.
An allocation of Php 1.763 billion was provided for the implementation of PCARI under the 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
However, the said participating agencies were not able to implement PCARI this year due to an alleged “conflict of interest” as argued upon by the DOST and the DOH.
CHED Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said that the Commission is working on a continuing discussion with the concerned agencies to push through with the research initiative.
Given the aforementioned issue, the Php 1.7-billion allotted for PCARI this year had not been utilized, which contributed to the decrease of the CHED’s proposed budget for next year.
Another reduction of Php 2.6 billion has been made on CHED’s Student Financial Assistance Program (StuFap). This year, an amount of Php 2 billion has been allotted for StuFap, down from last year’s Php 4.6 billion.
Of the Php 2 bilion, Php 1 billion will be channeled to State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) for the implementation of StuFap.
Licuanan said that channeling of funds is a “pragmatic way” due to CHED’s limited “carrying capacity.”
She also cited CHED’s incapability to provide scholarships to a big number of grantees, a reason for CHED to tap SUCs to aid the Commission in StuFap’s further implementation.
The Php 2 billion budget for StuFap is meant to provide scholarships to grantees of its various programs until they graduate as emphasized by Licuanan.
StuFap program includes scholarships, Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) and student loans.
More than 430,000 StuFap grantees will be provided with a continuing scholarship until such time when they graduate.
Of the Php 3.5-billion budget proposed by CHED for 2015, Php 255.7 million is allotted for personal services; Php 3.28 billion for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), which includes its regular program, StuFap and HEDF (Higher Education Development Fund); and Php 21 million for CHED projects, including PCARI, PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan), and MITHI (Medium Term ICT Harmonization Initiatives).