COA report on low spending of Bayanihan 2 funds 'inaccurate, misleading' — CHED

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
COA report on low spending of Bayanihan 2 funds 'inaccurate, misleading' â CHED
This undated file photo shows the Commission on Higher Education's office in Diliman, Quezon City

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Higher Education has objected to state auditors' report flagging its low spending of Bayanihan 2 funds in 2020, saying it was inaccurate and misleading. 

Findings by the Commission on Audit in its yearly report showed CHED spent only 40.61% of its allocated funds under the second coronavirus aid package. 

That would be P1.33 billion unutilized out of the P3.3 billion in total, leaving a balance of P1.96 billion. Such was meant to help state universities and colleges adapt to online learning due to the pandemic. 

In a statement on Wednesday, CHED chairperson Prospero de Vera III noted that COA's report covered only until December 31 last year, but the spending of such funds were allowed up to mid-2021.

"It is unfortunate that the COA report did not clarify that the utilization of the Bayanihan 2 funds have been extended to June 30, 2021," he said, "and finds fault in government agencies who are authorized to use the funds for six more months."

De Vera added that auditors made no mention of how Bayanihan 2 was only enacted in the third quarter of 2020. He said it would be "inconceivable" for CHED to process project proposals, request funds, and release it to SUCs within three months.

"The actions done by CHED are consistent with the requirements for prudent budget release," he said, "prompt budget execution, and strict accountability in the use of public funds."

Bayanihan 2 alloted P300 million for education subsidy to qualified students, and P3 billion as grant to SUCs to invest in technology infrastructure.

De Vera said they requested the release of the P300 million to the Department of Budget and Management on November 17, 2020, and got it by December 1 that year. 

By June 30, 2021, the CHED chief said over 60,000 students have received the subsidy and the agency has disbursed some P297.54 million.

On the P3 billion, De Vera said schools could receive up to P25 million each to upgrade internet access in their campuses, as well as its learning management system, to name a few.

CHED said it received 238 proposals from 111 SUCs, with the vetting process taking from December 2020 to June this year. In total, only 89 institutions were found eligible for the grant.

"The funds for the Smart Campus projects were requested and are downloaded by DBM to CHED only upon the completion of the whole vetting and approval process," De Vera said, "as the list of approved SUC projects and the amount allocated for each project in its request for the [Notice of Cash Allocation]."

He said CHED requested funds from the DBM for this on June 7, and by end of that month, had already disbursed P2.95 billion.






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