House defers Tesda budget over ‘poor utilization, questionable practices’
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on appropriations deferred Friday the proposed 2022 budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) as some lawmakers pointed out the agency’s “poor utilization” and “questionable practices” over its funds.
In his manifestation delivered by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano said that Tesda’s budget has increased “significantly” from 2017 to 2020 despite the agency’s continued “poor utilization” of its funds.
“This indicates poor planning and poor implementation of the programs and projects of the agency,” Paduano said.
“The COA (Commission on Audit) Annual Audit Reports show incredible misuse of public funds that it is a wonder why no one has not been investigated and charged administratively or criminally,” he added.
Poor fund utilization
Citing a 2019 COA report, Paduano said Tesda previously transferred more than P3 billion of funds to the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) for the procurement of various goods and services such as toolkits for students.
“However, because the transfers were made late, it appears that the agency may have just taken advantage of the procurement outsourcing services to keep the unutilized program funds to remain intact, thus making the PITC as depositary of unutilized funds for delayed or unimplemented programs/projects,” Paduano said.
Paduano likewise pointed out issues with Tesda’s use of funds in its 2020 budget, such as the questionable transfer of P160 million worth of anti-insurgency funds from Tesda central office to its regional offices.
The House leader said this is “highly questionable for lack of proper authority/legal basis and the absence of appropriate guidelines as to how this fund shall be utilized, likewise exposing these funds to possible misuse or misappropriation.”
“These are only some of the questionable practices that, in this humble representation’s opinion, show incredible gall of some officers of Tesda,” Paduano said.
“With that, I manifest my intention to have the consideration of the budget of Tesda deferred, and its budget reduced to a level that its officers can reasonably accomplish,” he added.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin backed Paduano’s call for the budget of the Tesda to be deferred.
Garin said that while Tesda’s programs are laudable, an agency cannot allow funds allocated to them to remain unutilized.
“Hindi pwedeng pabayaan nating natutulog yung pera ng sambayanang Pilipino habang marami ang nangangailangan nito,” Garin said.
(We cannot allow that the funds of the Filipino people sleep in the agencies when a lot of people need it.)
“Tesda can still work hand in hand with MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) but it is our responsibility to our people that money will be timely used,” she added.
In the end, Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo moved to terminate the budget hearings for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), except Tesda.
Tesda is under the DTI.
This essentially means the budget of Tesda was deferred and not yet approved by the committee.
The DTI has a proposed P23.7 billion for its 2022 budget, a bulk of which goes to the Tesda which has a proposed budget of P13.64 billion.