Education Secretary Briones wants 2017 budget to be fully spent

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2017 09:58 PM

Education Secretary Leonor Briones wants her department to spend in its entirety the P543-billion budget for 2017, so that it can fulfill its objectives.

Secretary Leonor Briones, a former national treasurer, said her department is like many agencies of government which tends to underspend its budget, but she noted, underspending means underdelivery. 

"You are given a budget for specific purposes, so if you don’t spend that money, you are not able to deliver what you promised in your budget," she said in an interview on ANC's "Headstart."

Briones said that, when she started at the department, it was spending 42% of the 2015 budget and "a little bit over 40%" of the 2016 budget. "So for the past six months, we are operating on two budgets," she said.

This year, Briones said that one-third of the department's budget is allocated for the salaries of public school teachers. The remaining fraction will be used to pay for teachers' allowances for daily expenses, acquisition of computers, laboratories, books, and furniture, among others.

There is also a provision in the budget "for the wasted and the severely malnourished children," Briones added.

The department will also allocate part of the budget to "download" to the Department of Public Works and Highways to build the classrooms. This year, Briones said, her office will adapt "multiplicity of designs for particular kinds of environment and places" for this.

She believes absorptive capacity is "not necessarily" the problem in the building of the classrooms, but it may also be "the procedures, like your procurement procedures, the way you do your bidding and sometimes miscalculations."

She noted that there is currently a standard cost for a particular schoolbuilding or classrooms, but it is bound to vary from province to province.

"We are now adapting multiplicity of designs for particular kinds of environment and places, kasi kung dati, isa lang, nobody picks it up. The contractors would not be interested because they would have to drag the lumber all the way to whatever island and so on," she said.

"We are now making those adjustments to speed up the school-building program."