By Billy Begas
Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo has filed a resolution seeking congressional investigation on the alleged anomalous practices of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) officials.
Quimbo urged the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct the investigation “with the view of making all responsible officers accountable for any malfeasance, misfeasance and/or nonfeasance that may have resulted in the failed delivery of necessary public services, curtailing competition in the technical vocational training market, and depriving the national government of much needed revenue in the face of the pandemic.
The filing of House Resolution 2279 stemmed from the deliberation of TESDA’s 2022 budget last month.
According to the Statement of Allotment, Obligation and Balances, TESDA failed to obligate P9.2 billion or 60% of its P15.3 billion budget for this year as of June 30, 2021.
During the budget briefing, TESDA said that it was able to obligate P3 billion or 19.6% if its annual budget from June 30 to September 10, 2021.
In the plenary deliberation on September 24, 2021, TESDA said it was able to obligate P7 billion or 45% of its budget for this year from June 30 to September 23, 2021 “implying that the agency has properly obligated nearly all its annual allotment.”
“Whereas, of the P7 billion allegedly obligated, P4 billion worth of funds were supposedly obligated in a span of 13 days from September 10 to 23, 2021,” the resolution read.
To correct the information, Quimbo said TESDA wrote her office on September 28 and attested that their total obligations as of September 24 is only P9.6 billion and their utilization rate is only 62.13%.
“Whereas, even if TESDA did not actually obligate over P4 billion within 13 days, it still holds true that they were able to obligate about P4 billion, or one-third of their budget in a span of three months which runs counter to their historical behavior of being able to fully utilize their budget only after 21 months,” the resolution further read.
She said the failure of TESDA to fully utilize the funds appropriated to them by Congress results in the failed delivery of public services, which is essential in times of pandemic.
In the same deliberation, Quimbo said it was discovered that TESDA is running its own training schools, which competes with privately owned technical vocational institutions.
Quimbo said a conflict of interest arises since TESDA is the one approving the scholarship grants to private techvoc schools and the schools which they own.
She also noted that while TESDA-run and –owned schools constitute less than 5% of the total number of training schools in the country, they are receiving 30% of agency’s scholarship fund.
Quimbo added that the scholarship funds received by TESDA schools were being deposited into a revolving fund called Sariling Sikap Fund, “the programing of which escapes the scrutiny of Congress.”
TESDA reportedly invest portion of the Sariling Sikap Fund, which generates earnings without having to remit dividends to the national government unlike other Government Owned and Controlled Corp. (GOCC).
Given the significant role that TESDA ought to play in developing and enhancing the skills and competencies of the Filipino laborers, Quimbo underscored the need to ensure that the financial and administrative operations of the agency are efficient and well managed.