Minority House leaders have moved to slash the proposed budget of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), castigating the agency for sitting on its huge budget, and to shift it to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to augment its programs and assistance to micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

This developed as minority leaders at the Lower House called to raise the MSME budget allocation to P7.5 billion while they slammed the way TESDA implement its programs and the utilization of its huge allocation during the budget hearing for the DTI and its attached agencies.

The DTI, including its attached agencies, has a proposed budget of P23.701 billion of which P13.642 billion or more than half will go to TESDA. Comparatively, the budget for MSMEs assisted projects and developed programs is only P3.446 billion and the Small Business Corp., the government’s micro financing arm, has only a meager budget of P1.5 billion.

Legislators noted of TESDA’s unused budget of P11.9 billion in 2021 GAA and P4.3 billion in the 2020 GAA.

After enumerating “questionable” TESDA practices in its expenditures, program implementation, and procurement of goods and services, which she said are open to misuse and misappropriation, Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas moved to “defer the consideration of TESDA budget and reduce it to levels that TESDA officers can reasonably accomplish.”

Senior minority leader Congresswoman Janette Garin seconded the motion: “I second the motion of minority leader Congresswoman Aileen Brosas to defer the consideration of the budget of TESDA and look at ways by which these can be maximally utilized by the Department of Trade and Industry together with TESDA and MSMEs.”

Garin proposed to increase the budget for MSMEs to P7.5 billion to be taken from proposed TESDA budget. Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella A. Quimbo, who also noted of TESDA’s unused budget, has moved to adjourn the DTI budget hearing, excluding TESDA’s.

During the interpellation, Garin noted the laudable programs of TESDA aimed at helping Filipinos and, in fact, have already helped a lot of people. However, Garin equally stressed at the heading attended by TESDA Director General Isidro Samson Lapena that “You cannot run the institution if you do not have the sense of urgency. The point here is budget utilization.”

She questioned TESDA’s unutilized huge budget while lots of Filipinos are in need of help. She like TESDA to sending soldiers to war without weapons because of slow procurement of equipment and tools needed. “What will happen to equipment if they arrive late?,” she asked.

Congressmen at the budget hearing were also clamoring for bigger budget for DTI’s programs for MSMEs such as OTOP, Shared Service Facilities, Negosyo Centers, micro financing, livelihood kits, and other livelihood programs, and projects for MSME development.

As more people are getting laid off following job closures and business slowdown, more Filipinos have gone into entrepreneurship.

For the period January-September 5 this year, business name registration at the DTI rose 651 percent to 11,105 from 1,848 pre-pandemic 2020. Total number of business names related to online retail reached 108,577 from 2020 to Sept. 5 this year.

There are an estimated 7 million total MSMEs in the country, but 5 million are still unregistered.

Based on the overall P23.701 billion proposed 2022 DTI budget, 57.56 percent or a huge P13.642 billion have been proposed for allocation to TESDA while the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) has P6.782 billion budget or 27.86 percent of total.

From the total DTI OSEC budget, P3.446 billion have been identified for MSME assisted and developed programs (P1.675 billion for TIER 1 and P1.771 billion for TIER 2).

Although the proposed DTI OSEC budget was 17 percent higher than the P5.810 billion in the General Appropriations Act of 2021, this was also 84 percent lower than its original proposal of P11.685 billion.

DTI agencies including the Board of Investments, the investment promotion arm of DTI, has a proposed budget of P399.715 million or 1.69 percent of total. The Philippine Trade Training Center has a proposed budget of P71.695 million, Design Center of the Philippines P116.17 million, Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines P126.612 million, Cooperative Development Authority P583.262 million, Aurora Pacific and Economic Zone Authority P52.216 million, Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions P152.612 million and Small Business Corp. P1.5 billion.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/09/12/legislators-want-tesda-budget-shifted-to-dtis-msmes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=legislators-want-tesda-budget-shifted-to-dtis-msmes)