Monday, January 3, 2011

Commentary: U.P.'s Unfinished Infrastructure Projects are in Danger of Becoming White Elephants Due to Aquino Administration Budget Cuts

By Chanda Shahani

In her December 17, 2010 End of the Term Report, the University of the Philippines outgoing Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo said that "as the University embarks on various means to generate additional revenues, the practice of transparency in its financial transactions takes on crucial significance. While the BOR is provided by the UP Administration with the annual financial report of the system and the UP budget proposed to the national government is approved by the BOR, there has been limited time for the BOR to familiarize itself with the financial status of the University. In fact the news that UP has savings equivalent to P11.9 billion was news for me as a member of the BOR as well as to many UP faculty and personnel. There is a similar demand for the Chancellors of the various constituent universities to be more transparent with the income and expenditures of each unit."

(The new Industrial Engineering/Mechanical
Engineering Building at U.P. Diliman.
To enlarge the picture, just click on it.)



This writer agrees with Regent Taguiwalo's observations about the need for greater financial transparency in an era of brutal budget cuts for U.P. and other State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). Let's assume for the sake of discussion, that all financial transactions at the University were undertaken with good faith and honesty, and that the P11.9 billion in cost savings were already earmarked for future activities, programs or the completion of various projects such as the National Engineering Complex of which P 100,911,012.08 has been allotted to the Industrial Engineering/Mechanical Engineering Building at U.P. Diliman and which was not structurally finished as of January 2, 2011 (see pictures above).

However, the Aquino administration's unilateral cutting of U.P.'s budget may be attributed to the failure of the administration of outgoing University of the Philippines (U.P.) President Emerlinda R. Roman to communicate to them that the "P 11.9 billion in savings" was already programmed, and that U.P. did not have sufficient funds to tide it over for the year 2011 for all of its current programs and projects as the Diliman Diary found out in an earlier interview last December 9, 2010 with former National Treasurer and National College of Public Administration and Governance Professor (NCPAG) Professor Leonor M. Briones when she was discussing the mindset of Senator Franklin M. Drilon, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, and is a key Aquino administration ally:

"For example, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin Drilon thinks that the U.P. System has lots of money, because if you look at the ending cash balance of the 2009 statement of cash flows, the figure is positive PhP 12 billion," Professor Briones said.

"What Senator Drilon did not consider is that most of this money is already programmed for legitimate university expenses and is therefore already spoken for," she said (http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/12/former-national-treasurer-and-up-ncpag.html).

Read the rest here: http://diliman-diary-sidebars.blogspot.com/2011/01/continuation-of-ups-unfinished.html

(Photos by: Chanda Shahani)

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