MANILA — Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero de Vera III said on Friday the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law is crucial to the full implementation of Republic Act No. 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.
Citing the high cost of providing free and quality college education, de Vera said he is not in favor of the TRAIN law suspension.
“I have come out publicly to support TRAIN because higher education requires a lot of funding from the national government. We want to make sure that RA 10931 is implemented fully and we have enough sources for that,” he told a press briefing.
De Vera said CHED’s PHP40-billion budget for the initial implementation of free college tuition and miscellaneous fees from 2017 to 2019 comes from the revenues generated by the TRAIN law.
“The computation of that budget is already anchored in TRAIN. So we cannot expand access to free education. If TRAIN is suspended, our revenues will be less and there will be less money to use. We will have to cut back on the expectations on the implementation of RA 10931,” he said.
De Vera noted that there will be another batch of K to 12 graduates next year who are looking forward to receiving free college education from state colleges and universities.
“What are we going to do with them? There will be less money to allocate for the universities which give free tuition. It’s as simple as that. If TRAIN is suspended, at the best, we will have to maintain existing levels if there are no new revenues. At the worst, we have to have cutbacks,” he said.
While CHED offers other scholarship programs to poor but deserving college students, de Vera said they will not be enough to cover the reimbursement for free college education because they are need- or merit-based.
“If you take away their (state college and universities) reimbursement from national government, we will have to go back to allowing them to charge tuition and fees. Otherwise, they won’t be able to operate. Running an educational institution is very expensive — payment for power, water, maintenance of buildings. Their income generation projects are not as substantial and reliable as tuition and miscellaneous,” he said.
Depending on the revenue the government would be able to raise through the TRAIN law, de Vera said CHED plans to propose an PHP11-billion increase in budget for the next school year.
“This is because there will be additional students and we want to increase the 300,000 slots for Tertiary Education Subsidy for the poor students to 400,000,” he added. Ma. Teresa Montemayor & Lyda Gail Suyu/PNA – northboundasia.com