By Ben Rosario
Only half of the P44.75 billion of the total budget for various education program was spent by the Commission on Higher Education last year, the Commission on Audit has revealed.
COA, in it 2018 annual audit report for CHED, chided the agency for its slow utilization of its 2018 allotment, noting that only P22.724,072,460.91 or 50.77 percent out of the total allotment was used to implement its projects.
Among the affected projects are the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education or UAQTE; Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI), assistance for higher education institutions for K to 12 Transition Program, provisions for assistance and incentives, scholarships and grants through the Student Financial Assistance Program and Subsidy for Tuition Fees of medical Students in state universities and colleges.
The UAQTE was implemented in 2017 but only P19.6 million was utilized out of the P39.949 total allotment. The low utilization was blamed to the delay in the approval of the implementing guidelines and non-submission of billing statements, among others.
State auditors noted that out of the six targeted project proposals under the PCARI in 2018, only one was approved by the CHED, “thereby resulting in the low utilization of only P405,439,086.87 or 53.14 percent of the P763 million budget allocation for the year.
The PCARI was a capacity building program for faculty, staff and students of higher education institutes done through collaborative research and training activities with elite universities in California, USA.
Auditors said CHED called for the fast tracking of recruitment of technical experts to facilitate the review of project proposals.
On the other hand, lapses were noted in the implementation of the research and scholarship grants under the K to 12 Transition Program
The K to 12 Transition program was established by CHED to offer a series of scholarship and grants for higher education personnel and institutions, in order to bring their capabilities and competence to a higher level of quality.
To address the deficiencies in the K to 12 programs, COA called for closer coordination of the project implementers and strengthen the project implementation.
“Weak monitoring of the program of the research activities being conducted, laxity in the enforcement of the submission of terminal and liquidation reports and the non-imposition of appropriate sanctions on defaulting HEIs resulted in long-overdue research projects and non-liquidation of fund transfers,” the audit report said.