Tesda ‘miracle’ on P4-B budget explained | Inquirer News
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Tesda ‘miracle’ on P4-B budget explained

MANILA, Philippines — An official of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) on Tuesday said that the House’s reaction to the P4-billion budget spent by the agency in 13 days was understandable because of the sudden change in figures.

But on a closer look, Lina Sarmiento, deputy director general of Tesda, said that the unobligated funds of the agency for 2021 consisted of different components that include personal services and capital outlay, among others.

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Based on the Sept. 10 data from Tesda’s subordinate offices in the regions and provinces, out of the P5.99-billion unobligated budget, P3.679 billion is allocated to the scholarship programs, she explained.

The P973 million is the uncommitted funds that fall under the P3.679-billion allotment for the scholarship programs. “You cannot consider that as unobligated [funds] because that amount is earmarked for Tesda programs that are yet to be implemented,” Sarmiento said.

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This is inconsistent with what Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Romeo Jalosjos Jr., sponsor of Tesda’s budget, told the House that the P973 million are unobligated funds.

During the Sept. 23 deliberations on the budget for Tesda, which is under the Department of Trade and Industry, House deputy minority leader and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo questioned Jalosjos on the unobligated funds of scholarship programs for 2021.

“These figures we are hearing are very surprising …. It seems there is a miracle in Tesda,” she said, noting that in just 13 days, the agency was able to utilize the P4-billion budget.

According to Sarmiento, the confusion stemmed from the two different offices where the data came from. “The P5.9 billion came from us while the P973 million was from the operations [office] that sets aside funds for the agency’s scholarship programs,” she said.

When Jalosjos was asked in deliberation, the data handed to him was the P973 million uncommitted funds reported on Sept. 10 because as of Sept. 24, the offices from the regions and provinces have not yet submitted the latest financial accountability reports, Sarmiento said.

The Tesda has clarified its “miraculous” use of P4 billion in 13 days as a case of using the “wrong” term to describe its spending of funds.

In effect, it backtracked on its statement made through Jalosjos that unobligated funds slid from P4.9 billion to P973 million in two weeks.

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TAGS: Lina Sarmiento, TESDA budget anomaly
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