Is There Life for State Universities after 2005?
Byline: MARK IVAN ROBLAS and RAYMOND J. CHEE KEE
MANILA (PNA News Feature) Facing a continuing deep budget cut for their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), the 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) across the country may shutdown in 2005, but the government has put up safety nets this early to offset the budget shortfall.
The safety nets include authorizing SUCs to embark on business ventures around the school campus to fill-up the budget shortfall.
A reassuring Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said there is life for all SUCs after 2005.
It would be wrong to say that the national government will relieve itself to give funds, Andaya stressed.
SUCs will be authorized to generate income to be used for their day-to-day operations.
The reduction of the MOOE of the SUC will help them raise their own income which they can keep, he said.
Andaya explained that the national government will be providing the salaries of the personnel, teachers and other staff members of the SUCs but the operating expenses would have to be shouldered by the school.
They should not be forever dependent on the national government... through this they will be given the opportunity to exercise their management skill, he added.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has issued a memorandum that cut the budget for the MOOE of SUCs.
According to Andaya, the memorandum was an offshoot of the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997. The Act provided in its implementing rules and regulation a five-year medium-term development plan for SUCs to obtain measures on how they would be able to resource funds for their maintenance operations, he pointed out.
RA 8292 provides that SUCs can enter into joint ventures with business and industry for the profitable development and management of the economic assets of the college or institution, the proceeds to be used for the development and strengthening of the college or university.
SUCs were also empowered to privatize, where most advantageous to the institution, management and non-academic services such as health, food, building or grounds or property maintenance.
To enable the SUCs to generate their own funds, they are also allowed to fix their tuition fees and other fees.
Such fees and charges ... shall constitute special trust funds and shall be deposited in any authorized government depository bank, and all interests ... shall form part of the same fund for the use of the university, the Act says.
Andaya pointed out that the former practice was to revert back the unused MOOE of the SUCs to the National Treasury. This time they can keep what they earn, he added.
RA 8292 also urges school authorities to adopt and implement a socialized scheme of tuition an school fees for greater access to poor but deserving students.
Andaya noted that the decrease in the MOOE to SUCs averages to about 10 percent each year.
Based on the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal year 2001, SUCs got a total of R2,119,669,000 for their MOOE, which was .56% of the entire MOOE budget given to various government agencies.
The amount went up to R2,199,468,000 which was .53% of the entire MOOE for the year 2002.
The allocation is slightly higher than the previous year but is smaller compared to the entire MOOE for the whole year. …