University of the Philippines faces budget cut of P3 billion next year

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
University of the Philippines faces budget cut of P3 billion next year
Stock photo of a peso money bill.
Philstar.com / Jovannie Lambayan

MANILA, Philippines — The University of the Philippines is facing a budget cut of almost P3 billion next year, budget documents submitted to Congress showed.

Based on the 2024 National Expenditure Program, the government is pushing for a budget of P21.291 billion for UP, down from this year’s P24.263 billion.

The bulk of the cut was mainly on capital outlays – down from P1.71 billion this year to just P52 million.

Funds for capital outlay are used for the construction of new facilities and procurement of equipment, among others.

Meanwhile, the government has proposed a budget of P6.49 billion for UP’s maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) next year, down from this year’s P8.114 billion.

The proposed allocation for personnel services was P16.045 billion, up from this year’s P15.686 billion.

At a Palace press briefing on Aug. 3, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman explained that the original proposed budget for UP this year was only P21.8 billion, but it ended up higher at P24.263 billion following budget deliberations in Congress.

“Most of (the additional budget) are for completion of existing infrastructure projects. So if it is for completion this 2023, we don’t need the funding for 2024,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Based on this year’s budget, among those that received capital outlay funding were the completion of a multi-specialty building at the Philippine General Hospital (P500 million) as well as for the repair and rehabilitation of other PGH buildings (P700 million).

Also receiving funding this year were the construction of several dormitories in UP campuses in Diliman and Cebu, as well as of other facilities in different campuses.

Pangandaman maintained that the lower proposed budget for UP will not have an impact on its operations, including on the number of students that it can admit.

Based on the breakdown of the proposed 2024 budget for UP, P10.494 billion will be allocated for higher education, P1.5 billion for advanced education, P766 million for research, P382 million for technical advisory extension and P5.496 billion for hospital services.

This includes a proposal of P533 million for PGH’s medical assistance program for indigent patients.

In a statement sent to The STAR, the UP Office of the Vice President for Planning and Finance noted the reduction in both capital outlay and MOOE and the slight increase in personnel services.

“Earlier, it was pointed out that student admissions will not be affected. DBM (Department of Budget and Management) is most likely referring to the appropriation for Free Higher Education, which we confirm to have increased by P600 million (from P1.5 billion to P2.1 billion as per our budget proposal),” it said.

“While there may have been infrastructure projects that have been completed already, many still require funds for completion. Also, these projects would require additional MOOE to operate and maintain,” the university added.

UP stressed that the amount is still not the final budget and that it may still change after the budget hearings.

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said he sees nothing controversial in the proposed budget for next year that can set it back or delay its approval.

Zubiri said the Senate is expected to receive its copy of the budget program in the coming weeks or until first week of September.

When asked by The STAR if he thought there were controversial items in the proposed budget that could bog down deliberations, he said, there was “nothing.” He said Sen. Sonny Angara, the chairman of the Senate committee on finance, would give direction to budget discussions.

Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, for his part, said he would scrutinize the proposed budget to see how the executive department utilized this year’s allocation.

Villanueva noted that the P183 billion for the flood control projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways – apart from the budget allocation for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – appeared to be not being utilized properly as the country’s flood problem has even worsened. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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