Not enough funds for more classrooms in proposed 2023 budget–DBM chief

In file photo: Chairs are stacked outside classrooms in GSIS Village Elementary School in Quezon City

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has admitted that the government does not have sufficient funds to address the backlog of classrooms in the country under the proposed 2023 national budget.

During the Development Budget Coordination Committee briefing on the proposed 2023 national budget in the House of Representatives, House Assistant Minority Leader Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas questioned the lack of budget allotted for school buildings as well as public housing, pointing out that the government even allotted more funds for road networks and right-of-way (ROW) projects.

Under the proposed P5.268 trillion national budget and out of the P1.2 trillion allotted for the administration’s “Build Better More,” or BBM program, the Executive branch allotted P13.9 billion for school buildings and P2.5 billion for housing and community facilities while it allocated P429 billion for road networks and P28.6 billion for ROW projects.

“Madam chair, yung pondo pong ito, why not aim for more funds for schools and public housing, more funds for the social services or di kaya cash aid, mas mararamdaman ito ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino, hindi itong mga road networks. Mas malaki pa nga yung right of way…,” Brosas remarked  during the hearing on Friday.

At present, the country still lacks 40,000 classrooms and 6.5 million housing units.

Responding to Brosas, Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said they have already increased the budget for school buildings by P3 billion.

“However, we need to take into account the absorptive capacity of the departments and agencies in the preparation of budget,” the budget chief explained.

Pressed categorically by Brosas whether the proposed budget allocation will be enough to address the classroom shortage and housing backlog in the country, Pangandaman said: “Madame chair, we don’t have enough funds to provide for the backlog of the classrooms.”

The budget hearing on the proposed national budget next year comes amid the controversy on the procurement of alleged overpriced and outdated laptops by the Department of Education for teachers.

The issue revived calls for the abolition of the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management, which was also previously the subject of controversy for its procurement of alleged overpriced Covid-19 medical supplies.

On the call to abolish PS-DBM, Pangandaman appealed that the agency be given a chance instead to clean the procurement process, adding that they already have programs on how to reorganize the agency.

“I will defer to the wisdom of the Congress if they wish to really abolish PS-DBM… During the time when I was with Secretary Diokno in 2017-2019, one of the benefits of the PS-DBM is the savings incurred during that time, which is worth P18 billion. If we give a chance to PS-DBM, and if we clean the process, and the system of procurement in PS-DBM, maybe we can go back to its old glory,” she said. 

Image credits: Winona Sadia


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