CHED blasts ‘inaccurate, misleading’ COA report on low utilization of P3.3-B Bayanihan 2 budget
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission for Higher Education (CHED) on Wednesday disputed the Commission on Audit (COA) findings that the P3.3 billion allocated under Bayanihan 2 law had been underutilized.
In its annual audit report, COA flagged CHED for only using 40.61 percent of the fund allocated under Bayanihan 2.
In a statement, CHED chairman Prospero De Vera, called the report “inaccurate” and “misleading” after it failed to “take into account the passage of RA 11519 on 29 December 2020 extending the use of the Bayanihan 2 funds until 30 June 2021.”
“It is unfortunate that the COA Report did not clarify that the utilization of the Bayanihan 2 funds have been extended to 30 June 2021 and finds fault in government agencies who are authorized to use the funds for six more months,” said De Vera.
According to De Vera, the COA report also failed to mention the date of enactment of the Bayanihan 2 law, which is September 11, 2020.
“It is therefore inconceivable to expect CHED to receive, vet, and approve submitted project proposals; request the funds from DBM; and release the funds to SUCs (state universities and colleges) within a three-month period,” De Vera explained.
“The actions done by CHED are consistent with the requirements for [a] prudent budget release, prompt budget execution, and strict accountability in the use of public funds,” he said.
Among the allocations in Bayanihan 2 are P300 million as a student subsidy and P3 billion as a grant to SUCs to invest in technology infrastructure.
According to De Vera, the COA Report failed to consider the chronological release of funds, the requirements for funding, and the implementation of CHED activities after the passage of Bayanihan 2.
He said that on November 17, CHED requested a P300 million Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to be used for the “Bayanihan 2 for Higher Education Tulong Program” which provided qualified students P5,000.
CHED received the funds from DBM on December 1, 2020, and the funds were obligated by December 31, 2020.
As of June 30, 2021, as many as 60,782 students have benefited from the program, which has disbursed P297,540,319.39.
Meanwhile, CHED allocated P3 billion for the Smart Campus Development Program, aiming to provide laptop computers to SUC faculty and provide grants for Smart Campus project proposals from SUCs.
P1.04 billion was allocated for the acquisition of laptop computers and P1.96 billion for the grants.
CHED received a total of 238 proposals from 111 SUCs and a thorough vetting process was conducted by a panel of experts from December 2020 to June 2021. Out of the 111 SUCs with project proposals, only 89 were eligible for funding from the Bayanihan 2 fund.
Starting 7 June 2021, CHED requested DBM for NCA for the approved SUC proposals and as of June 30, 2021, CHED obligated PhP2,998,844,375.78 and disbursed PhP2,958,430,405.77, resulting in a 99 percent utilization rate.
“It is clear from the chronology of events and fund releases by the DBM that CHED was able to obligate and disburse PhP3,255,970,725.16 of its PhP3.3 billion Bayanihan 2 funds as provided for in RA 11494 and RA 11519, resulting in an overall utilization rate of 99 [percent],” said De Vera.
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