Solon bares ‘possible’ sources of funds for free tuition in SUCs

MANILA-- House Appropriations Chair and Davao City Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles on Monday enumerated several possible sources of funds to help finance the just enacted Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Law.

In a televised interview, Nograles said Congress can source funding from the various departments and agencies and state-owned institutions which have low absorptive capacity in the utilization of their annual budgets.

Nograles said that if a government agency has low absorptive capacity, Congress can slash its budget and reallocate said funds to the free tuition for higher education program.

There are at least 26 departments and 110 government agencies and Government Corporations which receive subsidies from national government that can be potential sources of funds to finance the free college education program, he said.

Aside from state universities and colleges (SUCs) and vocational institutions, also covered by the free tuition scheme are local government colleges and universities and, likewise, the student loan programs.

He said his panel is also looking at possible contributions from gaming agencies such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

"We will look at the charter of these institutions if it is possible for us to tap them for financial help to fund the program, Nograles said.

Meanwhile, the chair of the House Appropriations panel said that even the budget of Congress might be tapped if needed just to be able to raise enough funds for the free college education law.

I think that everyone can pitch in, including Congress to be able to come up with the funds needed to subsidize the tuition fees in our SUCs. We can make it happen through the concept of Bayanihan," he said.

"Instead of Congress identifying what we're gonna slash there and take away from you in order to pool it and fund this Free Higher Education Law, then maybe you can voluntarily say, 'Okay, I'm willing to give this up and give that up' Kumbaga, mag-bayanihan spirit tayo," Nograles said.

Meanwhile, the House leader said that his panel, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will meet Wednesday to discuss the detailed estimate on how much would be needed to fully implement the free college education law.

Based on CHED's initial estimate, the government would need anywhere between PHP16 billion to PHP35 billion to fully subsidize the free tertiary education program.

But according to the DBM, the program needs an annual appropriation of around PHP 00 billion.

"What the CHED and the DBM can do is to make assumptions on how many students will be enrolling in 2018, and then calculate the cost," Nograles said.

Source: Philippine News Agency