PASIG CITY, August 30, 2018 – Undaunted by the “deep cuts” in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, the Department of Education (DepEd) gained the approval of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations for its cash-based budget and conveyed its readiness to implement the allocation even “at a time of increasing scarcity in resources.”

“We, in DepEd, will wait and will be prepared to execute the outcome of the budget deliberations of the Legislative and the Executive,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones stated during the seven-hour committee hearing on August 28.

Based on the cash-based budget prepared by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as part of the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP), DepEd’s allocated budget of P528.8 billion is 72.1% of its original proposed budget worth P732.28 billion, and is a contraction by 8.9% from P580.6 billion in the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA). The reduction has been earlier noted by the Department as something that is expected due to the proposed shift to a cash-based budget system.

“DepEd comes to Congress with a budget proposal that is significantly lower than previous’ years appropriations but this is not necessarily because of poor performance,” she added.

In 2017, the Department sustained its increased obligation rate at 97% from 90% in 2016 and 88% in 2015. The people also recognized that under the current administration, DepEd enjoyed its highest year-on-year approval rating since 2005, at 84% in March 2018 based on Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan survey.

Cash-based vs obligation-based budget
The DBM’s proposed cash-based budgeting system limits the agencies’ programmed items to what can be finished and paid within 2019, effectively removing from the proposed budget the projects that cannot be implemented within the year. Meanwhile, the obligation-based budget enables the extension of program implementation to the succeeding year once it is procured and funds are obligated toward the end of the current fiscal year.

DepEd, which has long been following the obligation-based budget along with other agencies, implements its programs and projects per academic year that straddles between two fiscal years.

Viewing the transition to cash-based budgeting as an opportunity to enforce stricter budget discipline and greater efficiency, Secretary Briones noted: “We are now moving from within-year obligation to within-year obligation and delivery. If annual cash budgeting will proceed, and we wait with bated breath the result of the dialogue between the Executive and the Legislative, we are gearing ourselves for better planning and pre-work for programs and projects, further improvement in timing of procurement and downloading of funds, further improvement in monitoring and corrective adjustment, and capacity building for teaching and non-teaching personnel.”

Rising to the challenge of scarcity
Notwithstanding the situation, Secretary Briones emphasized: “So we say that scarcity is a reality in public finance, we struggle with it every year – Legislative, Executive, and the general public. Our needs will always be much greater than the resources. This is true not only for DepEd but also for all other agencies. This is a basic truism in economics: Our wants will always be bigger because our needs are always expanding. DepEd will rise to the challenge and remain committed to the delivery of quality education to every Filipino learner.”