Press Release
November 26, 2015

Senate to restore P3B SUC cuts, to add P6B for scholarships

The Senate will likely restore the P3 billion cut in the proposed 2016 budget of 114 state universities and colleges (SUCs) and on top of this, add P6 billion in tuition aid and scholarship grants for their 1.3 million students.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto had sponsored the amendments authorizing these increases which he expects to be carried in the Senate version of the P3.001 trillion 2016 budget expected to be approved this afternoon.

Recto said the P3 billion will be for capital outlays, "so the amount appropriated for this in 2015 will be retained for 2016."

In budgeting parlance, capital outlays refer to buildings, infrastructure, equipment, land, and other asset-creating expenditures.

This year, the amount authorized for SUC capital outlays in the national budget is P8.78 billion. But this was reduced to P5.72 billion in the proposed budget Malacañang had sent to Congress.

Recto justified the P3 billion augmentation, describing it as "one-fourth of what we spent for the APEC summit."

Recto said the P3 billion will be distributed equally among the 114 SUCs nationwide. "This means each will receive P26.3 million. This is the most equitable manner of disbursing the amount."

Recto said it would be up to a state college or university where to spend the capital outlay funds given to it.

"It can be science laboratory, classrooms, computers or dormitories. But a motor vehicle should be a no-no," he said

For 2016, the Palace originally proposed a budget of P43.7 billion for the 114 SUCs. Of this amount, P10.9 billion, will be for the University of the Philippines (UP), including the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

"For every budget peso for SUCs, 25 centavos goes to UP, and 75 centavos will be shared by 113 schools," Recto said.

In the General Appropriations Bill it passed last month, the House of Representatives hiked the SUC budget by almost P900 million: P408 million for UP, and P494 million for the rest of the SUCS.

According to Recto, the proposed additional P6 billion in tuition aid and scholarship grants for students in state schools, when offered next year, would transform many SUCs into no-tuition zones.

It was revealed in yesterday's plenary debate on the 2016 budget of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that P8 billion is needed "to fully subsidize the tuition of 800,000 SUC students next year."

"By allocating P 6 billion, we're narrowing the gap, and many SUCs may just be able to forego the tuition component of school fees," he said.

SUC enrolment is projected to go down to 800,000 next year, when secondary schools nationwide will not produce a single graduate as all Grade 10 students will proceed to Senior High School under the K-to-12 program.

The P6 billion tuition aid grant from the Senate would translate to a P7,500 assistance per student, Recto explained.

He justified the P6 billion as affordable "as it is about 1/10th of what we spend for the Conditional Cash Transfer a year."

"P6 billion is about one-third of what government will spend for the travel of its employees next year. Four months' worth of travelling expenses," he said.

"Kung mayroong salary increase ang mga empleyado na magkakahalaga ng P225 billion kapag fully implemented na, ano ba naman ang P6 bilyong umento sa mga estudyante ng SUCs?" Recto asked.

Recto said the funding for the proposed P3 billion in capital outlay and P6 billion in tuition aid and scholarship grants for SUCs will come from a P9 billion reduction in the proposed P30 billion capital infusion for the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

"These are profitable banks. They can fund the capital increase from their own income. So instead of remitting it to the national government, they can just retain it," he said.

"Pag may kita, i-re-remit sa Palasyo sa isang magarbong seremonya. Kung kailangan ng kapital, si Juan de la Cruz ang papasan?" Recto lamented.

"It all boils down to this: 'Mamili ka: dalawang bangko o isang milyong istudyante ng SUCs?' Recto said.

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