CHED hopes education budget ‘spared’ from oil excise tax suspension

MANILAThe Commission on Higher Education (CHED) expressed optimism that the budget of the education sector will not be affected if the scheduled increase of excise taxes on diesel and gasoline will be suspended next year.

Perhaps education will be their less priority. Their priorities are those services which are not for education, CHED officer-in-charge Executive Director Cinderella Jaro said during Wednesday's weekly Palace economic press briefing.

Jaro said the commission has been coordinating closely with the Department of Finance (DOF) to make sure that the education sector will be spared from the plan to suspend the oil excise tax hike in 2019, as prices of crude oil in the world market are expected to exceed USD80 per barrel in the remaining months of the year.

Definitely, Jaro replied when asked if efforts are being done to spare education from suspension as provided in the Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

We will be in close coordination with the DOF so that provision for education will somehow not be affected by any deduction, she added.

She said DOF Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino has informed CHED about the possibilities of reducing the budget of certain services.

As of now, they have not yet made the decision on the matter. They are just in the process of forming a task force determining which social services may be deducted, Jaro said.

Under the TRAIN law, the next round of increase on oil excise tax will be suspended if the average global price of crude breaches USD80 per barrel in the last three months of 2018.

Jaro said TRAIN law is crucial in the implementation of Republic Act 10931 or Unified Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).

One of the purposes of course of TRAIN law was to ensure that government will be able to provide for the needs of those under its jurisdiction through the provision for better education, she said.

She said the TRAIN law has significantly increased the CHED budget for UniFAST implementation from PHP8 billion in 2017 to PHP40 billion in 2018.

So you can see the changes of budget of CHED for the provision for better education, for free tuition and other school fees from PHP8 billion to PHP40 billion, Jaro said.

Jaro said budget for UniFAST stands to increase by at least PHP3 billion in 2019 due to TRAIN law.

Out of PHP40 billion, UniFAST officer-in-charge Executive Director Carmelita Yadao-Sison said PHP16 billion has been allotted for free tuition and other school fees in 112 States Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and 78 Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs).

Sison said another PHP15.66 billion went to tertiary education subsidy (TES) while PHP7 billion for free Technical-Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and another PHP1 billion for Student Loan Program.

This Tertiary Education Subsidy is allotted on a prioritized basis and biased towards the poorest of the poor, the near poor and the poor, Sison said.

She said CHED, so far, has 354,000 TES applications, most of them from 1,800 private schools.

The UniFAST official said TRAIN law supports the efforts of CHED to improve the quality of education in the country.

What the TRAIN law wants us to do is for the Philippines to be higher in terms of global competitiveness index, she said.

Sison expressed hope that the Philippines, which ranked behind ASEAN neighbors Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, will move forward if we put our efforts in implementing more reforms.

Based on latest World Tax Summaries for the Asia Pacific Region in 2017-2018, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and China provide a preferential tax rate for proprietary educational institutions.

She, however, said the Philippines' 10 percent preferential tax rate imposed on private institutions is lower than Sri Lanka's 14 percent and India's 18 to 21 percent. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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