Thursday, January 19, 2012

U.P. President highlights significant issues in U.P.'s financing

By Chanda Shahani

There is a worldwide trend that points to declining support by governments for education; and the University of the Philippines (U.P.) System needs to take concerte steps to address this reality in the Philippines, said U.P. President Alfredo E. Pascual.

Speaking on January 19, 2012 at the Salvador P. Lopez Centennial Academic Conference held at Faculty Center, U.P. Diliman, Pascual said that while U.P. needs to intensify its campaign for more subsidy from the national government, there were other steps that U.P. must and should implement to bolster its finances.

These are:
  • Develop U.P.'s land grant and other properties, such as the U.P.-AyalaLand technohub located along Comonwealth Avenue in Diliman Quezon City. Pascual said that since the U.p. Charter of 2008 (R.A. 9500) said that all U.P.'s land grants were for the use of the national university; the revenue derived from leasingout U.p. lands to Ayala Land, Inc., were meant for the entire national university, and not just U.P. Diliman alone. The same concept would apply to other U.P. lands outside U.P. Diliman. Any revenues derived from such would go towards the funds of the U.P. System which were held collectively, he said. He said the reason for this was that the level of endowmenets varied across constituent units; depending on accident and history, not design.
  • With regards to Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) or "pork barrel" initiatives of congress, he said that that at least PhP 6.2 billion were allocated to U.P. in previous General Appropriations Acts (GAA) in Congress, but were not fully released to U.P. It was time that U.P., reclaimed these lost funds, he said.
  • He said that grants, endowmenets and scholarships should be coordinated through common fund raising efforts in order to maximize targets.
  • General alumni support needed to be tapped, he said. A spirit of giving among the alumni needed to be strenghtned, Pascual said.
  • Overhead costs needed to be brought down even further. One way that this could be done was to foster the development of the e-U.P. software and hardware system where both payrolls and procurement needs across the U.P. System could be consolidated for greater economies of scale and efficiencies.
  • He also said that U.P. had to find ays and means to maximize trust funds and earnings and thus pool resources under the control of one individual system. "It's better to have one portfolio in order to diversify risks and maximize returns," he said. He said that U.P. could easilyt double its earnings from its combined trust and other funds which totalled about PhP 10 billion.
  • He also said that U.P. needed to start harnessing the provisions of the U.P. Charter where it should take advantage of the fact that it was zero VAT rated. This means that U.P. does not have to pay 12% Value Added Tax in such diverse expenses such as electricity and purchase of construction materials or services.
"U.P. is not immune to the problems of other higher institutions," Pascual said, adding that "The annual amounts given by the government to U.P. are not enough for U.P. to develop and grow."

1 comment:

  1. Let me get this straight: here we have UP where the best and the brightest study, where graduates pride themselves as "iskolar ng bayan", where future thought leaders and politicians are formed, has trouble with its finances? What happened to its brain power? To its vaunted alumni? Stingy? Not giving back are we? Just imagine the law and business alumni, they can put down some but where is it?

    Surely UP could have always start an endowment fund and its vaunted finance and economics faculty could advise it. But sorry, never crossed their minds it seems.

    Of course UP can greatly help its finances by making its tuition fee more reflective of market prices than artificially (and apparently impractical) cheap via gov't subsidies. But of course making education "affordable" even if it strains UP finances is--it seems--sacrosanct and sacred.

    So now the maroons are reduced to claiming that "UP is not immune to problems of other higher institutions" but its clear that UP is immune to common sense: why were these basic financial options not started years ago??? This is what you get when intellectuals try to run things. You get crap.

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