MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) is introducing various reforms in order to deal with its biggest budget yet: a proposed P571-billion ($12.14-billion) allocation for 2017.
One such reform is a financial management information system that will track the use of DepEd funds from the central office down to the level of the principal. (READ: Tech ‘crucial’ in delivering education services – Briones)
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the 2017 budget approved by President Rodrigo Duterte is higher than the previous budget by 30%.
“We’re trying to eliminate backlogs in procurement. As you all know, it’s not only in DepEd but in all agencies that we have a problem of underspending, and part of this is largely due to the procurement system and all its requirements, and this has been bugging how many administrations already,” Briones, a former national treasurer, told reporters on Thursday, August 4.
The target, Briones said, is to eliminate backlogs in providing resources for formal and informal education by the end of the year or early next year.
“We are not going to wait until the procurement law is perhaps revised, and some of our national procedures are revised. On our own, we have initiated steps to speed up the procurement process and also make efficient budget utilization,” she added.
In addition to the financial management information system, Briones will have a new undersecretary for budget utilization – a role different from an undersecretary for finance administration, who takes care of financial matters on the expenditures side.
“The size of the budget of DepEd is so large and so vast that keeping track of it, ensuring accountability will need more than one undersecretary,” Briones explained.
“If you will recall, the previous administration was driven to violation of the Constitution because of the problem of budget utilization, and so I have recruited an expert on budgetary systems and financial management who will focus on budget utilization,” she added.
The DepEd will also create a full-time delivery unit that will keep track of the department’s programs and projects.
The goal is to fast-track the bottleneck in the department’s procurement process. (READ: Briones: PH must prove it deserves to spend more on education)
“I know that no matter how lofty, no matter how wonderful, no matter how inspiring our programs and projects are, if we are not able to bring down the resources and place these resources in terms of what is needed for the project, then we will always have backlogs,” the education secretary said.
Briones on Thursday addressed concerns that education is in the back burner after Duterte only dedicated a couple of sentences for it during his first State of the Nation Address. (READ: SONA 2016: Duterte wants mandatory education on evils of drugs)
“I have always taught my students that the real test of commitment, support, is not in political speeches. It is in budgetary support, and DepEd is given this kind of budgetary support, so we are not neglected, we are not ignored,” she added. – Rappler.com
$1 = P47.03