Abad: P5-B CHED budget not pork
MANILA, Philippines -Budget secretary Florencio Abad said Thursday, August 23, that the P5-billion lump sum allocated to the Commission on Higher Educaton (CHED) is not a pork barrel, but a development fund.
Abad is referring to the new line item introduced in the proposed budget for state universities and colleges (SUCs) 2014 which is earmarked for capital outlays and scholarship programs.
In this P5 billion budget, P2.5 billion will fund for the creation of new buildings and the purchase of new equipment. The other P2.5 billion will be used for scholarship programs of SUCs across the country.
In the budget deliberations held August 27, several lawmakers likened the line item to pork barrel.
"I smell pork in the budget. It's like pork because it's only released when you're able to identify the programs you are going to implement," Nueva Vizcaya Rep Carlos Padilla previously argued during a recent hearing on the budget of SUCs.
Pork barrel funds are discretionary funds allocated to lawmakers that are meant to fund for localized programs and projects.
Similar to the pork barrel, the lump sum item under the SUCs budget does not identify specific implementing agencies and projects. According to some lawmakers, the lack of accountability could make the lump sum fund prone to misuse and corruption.
The allegation is being made at the height of pork barrel scam implicating businesswoman Janet Napoles and other senators and lawmakers.
"It's a development fund that CHED will distribute to SUCs under the administration's higher education reform roadmap," Abad clarified.
The fund is supposed to support the CHED's Roadmap for Higher Public Education Reform (RHPER) program, the current administration's blueprint for tertiary education reform.
“By defining major initiatives and tangible outputs, the roadmap will help SUCs prime their students to join the workforce and respond to the manpower demands of fast-growing industries," Abad said. - Rappler.com