PIDS in the News

The governments national greening program (NGP) can help reduce poverty and preserve the environment if properly implemented, a private think tank said in its position paper.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Danilo Israel said there is high probability the expected outcomes of the NGP will be attained, if it is implemented efficiently and effectively and as planned.

The NGP was a priority program of the Aquino administration aimed at poverty reduction, food security, environmental stability and biodiversity conservation and enhancement of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It had a total budget of P31 billion for five years and aimed at planting 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares of land nationwide from 2011 to 2016.

As of June 2016, over 1.3 billion seedlings of various tree species have been planted in more than 1.6 hectares of open, denuded and degraded forest lands.

The PIDS study noted that the program exceeded its target area at 113 percent but fell short in its target seedling planted at 90 percent.

These figures, according to the study, already equaled or even surpassed what the Philippine government had accomplished in reforestation in the past 50 years.

Considering the governments decision to extend the program to 2028, Israel said it is worthwhile to evaluate the NGPs performance and look at the issues and problems encountered during its implementation.

Taking effective steps to improve its implementation will go a long way to ensure its success, he said in the paper he sent to select organizations, including the Daily Tribune.

The impact evaluation of the NGP conducted by PIDS estimated that the implementation of the program will result in a 0.3-percent increase in the total output of the economy in 2020, one percent in 2030 and 2.5 percent in 2050.

The forestry sector is expected to post the highest output growth effect, which is estimated to reach to as high as 5.5 percent in 2050.

According to Israel, the NGP also has the potential to increase household income and decrease poverty.
Almost three-fourths of households in NGP sites claimed there had been significant increases in their incomes. This was likewise confirmed by simulations done by PIDS, comparing business-as-usual scenario versus having the NGP.

In terms of employment generation, the NGP has provided 3.3 million jobs, around half a million of which are in upland and rural communities.

It also contributed in recovering forest areas. Using 2010 to 2015 figures, the Food and Agriculture Organization ranked the Philippines fifth among countries with most annual forest gain, with 240,000 hectares or 3.5-percent annual increase.

However, the study noted that while the NGP has been successful in planting seedlings, issues like low survival rate of trees planted and poor program monitoring have persisted.

There have also been allegations of corruption among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and peoples organization (PO) leaders, which created conflict within the community organizations in NGP sites.

Thus, Israel recommended a review of the design of the NGP, in terms of individual species and mix of tree species planted, tree spacing, and other important technical parameters.

He contended that the design and tree species planted by the NGP are not always appropriate to the sites.//

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: February 16, 2017
Source: The Daily Tribune

The Cordillera has a strong potential to sustain its financial capacity if it becomes an autonomous region, according to the National Economic Development Authority Region 10 Director Maria Lourdes Lim.

During the forum on fiscal viability of an autonomous region conducted last month in Baguio City, Lim said the strong potential of the Cordillera Administrative Region for fiscal sustainability can be attributed to its high per capita transfers or national government allocation per person and its locally generated revenues. Only CAR shares this status with the National Capital Region, she added.
Despite CARs constant receipt of the lowest national government allocation among the regions in the country, Lim said it has the highest capacity to generate local revenues, a major determinant of its potential for fiscal sustainability.
She suggested for local government units in CAR to lower their high Internal Revenue Allotment dependency ratio, which ranges from 72 to 93 percent; broaden their tax base, and increase efficiency in collecting revenues.
Cordillera Regional Development Council Vice Chairperson and NEDA-CAR Director Milagros Rimando said the forum served as venue to learn and evaluate whether the Cordillera, as an autonomous region or as a federal state, can be financially sustainable.
She added that the RDC-CAR is planning to partner with the Local Government Development Foundation and Philippine Institute for Development Studies for the conduct of fora within the year.//

Author:
Date: February 12, 2017
Source: Baguio Midland Courier

Funding more scholarships, grants and student loan programs to benefit poor but deserving college students is a better way for the government to catalyze tertiary education in the Philippines than mandating tuition-free education in all state universities and colleges (SUCs).

According to a policy note written by Aniceto Orbeta Jr. and Vicente Paqueo of the state-owned think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the proposal to grant free college education would have little impact on the poor and create bigger distortions in other facets of higher education.

The detailed content of this paper was released by the free-market advocacy group Foundation for Economic Freedom, of which both Orbeta and Paqueo are members.

The PIDS paper proposed instead that the government fully fund the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), which was enacted in October 2015.

UniFAST was designed to unify all modalities of publicly-funded Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs)"scholarships, grants-in-aid and student loans"for tertiary education.

It rationalizes the allocation, utilization and client-targeting of government resources and improves access to quality higher and technical education for those who need it.

The current StuFAPs funding of P5.75 billion is seen as insufficient as this accounts for only 29 percent of the required P19.8 billion needed to raise the enrollment rate of the people from the bottom 20 percent of the population.

If the government wants to expand access of the poor but capable students, it only needs to put more funds to the grants-in-aid component. If it wants to finance more bright students, it needs to put more resources into scholarships. If it wants to expand access for those who are neither poor nor bright but are college ready, it only needs to expand the allocation for student loans. Moreover, it does not favor one sector"financing follows the student, to public or private HEIs (higher education institutions), the paper said.

The paper also pointed out that targeting the poor with full financing using grants-in-aid under the UniFAST law will benefit more poor students than an untargeted general tuition subsidy for students of SUCs.

There are several bills pending in the legislature calling for free tuition for all students enrolled in SUCs, with proponents invoking the constitutional provision mandating the state to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

While the free tuition policy for all students in SUCs is popular and appears pro-poor, the policy note said that since tuition accounted for only one-third of the college costs, only those who have resources to pay for the rest of the costs would effectively avail of the subsidy. Any partial financing is antipoor, the paper said.//

Author: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

CEBU, Philippines " The government's greening program, if implemented properly and efficiently, can help improve the country's economy, hinted a new study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
According to the PIDS study, about .3 percent increase is expected in the total output of the economy by 2020, one percent in 2030, and 2.5 percent in 2050 if the National Greening Program (NGP) is given utmost attention and implemented according to plan.
The NGP was a priority program of the Aquino Administration aimed at poverty reduction, food security, environmental stability and for biodiversity conservation, and enhancement of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It had a total budget of P31 billion for five years and aimed at planting 1.5 billion seedlings in 1.5 million hectares of land nationwide from 2011 to 2016.
If properly implemented, the NGP can help in further reducing poverty and preserving the environment, said PIDS in a policy note it released recently.
"There is high probability the expected outcomes of the NGP will be attained, if it is implemented efficiently and effectively and as planned," PIDS said.
As of June 2016, over 1.3 billion seedlings of various tree species have been planted in more than 1.6 hectares of open, denuded, and degraded forest lands.
The PIDS study noted that the program exceeded its target area at 113 percent but fell short in its target seedlings planted at 90 percent. But these figures, according to the study, already equaled or even surpassed what the Philippine government had accomplished in reforestation in the past 50 years.
In terms of employment generation, the NGP has provided 3.3 million jobs, around half a million of which are in upland and rural communities.
Almost three-fourths of households in NGP sites claimed there had been significant increases in their incomes. This was likewise confirmed by simulations done by PIDS, comparing business-as-usual scenario versus having the NGP.
Considering the government's decision to extend the program to 2028, PIDD suggested that it is worthwhile to evaluate the NGP's performance and look at the issues and problems encountered during its implementation.
Taking effective steps to improve its implementation will go a long way to ensure its success, the study further recommended. " (FREEMAN)


Author: Ehda M. Dagooc
Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Freeman

Free tuition in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) can do more harm than good and can be considered anti-poor, a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
According to the policy note titled, Who benefits and loses from an untargeted tuition subsidy for students in SUCs, free tuition involves only partial financing, and the tuition is just a fraction of the total cost of higher education.
PIDS said that those who will likely benefit from it are students from richer households as they have the resources to finance the rest.
Free tuition fee in SUCs can also tilt the enrollment in favor of them because of the cheaper cost of education, the study said.
The report likewise said that the budget that will be allocated to implement this policy will also likely crowd out investments for infrastructure, agriculture, K-12, and other high-priority pro-poor development programs.

Providing tuition subsidy for everyone enrolled in SUCs has to be studied carefully. Because the subsidy will be paid for general taxes, all taxpayers"whether or not they have family members who avail of tertiary education or plan to do so"will be obliged to pay for those who enroll in SUCs, the study said.
This will also discourage efficiency because those who are not considering tertiary education under a with tuition fee scenario will now find tertiary education attractive and will likely consume this good more than what they would do if they were required to pay, it said.
In addition, the policy note said that those who are willing and capable to pay for tertiary education will now divert the resources intended for tertiary education to some other expenditures.
This constitutes an unnecessary loss of private investments at a time when the country needs resources to fund strategic expansion in tertiary education. Moreover, what if the government fails to sustain financing the increase in demand due to an artificially inexpensive tertiary education or a free one? the report said.

A subsidized college education may also exacerbate income inequalities. If it is not targeted to the poor, who usually have lower qualifications, they will lose out to students with better backgrounds who are usually from richer households, it added.
The report said that fully funding the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education or UniFAST Law is a better alternative to implement the constitutional mandate of democratizing access.

UniFAST was designed to unify all modalities of publicly funded Student Financial Assistance Programs (StuFAPs)"scholarships, grants-in-aid, and student loans"for tertiary education. It rationalizes the allocation, utilization, and client targeting of government resources, and improves access to quality higher and technical education for those who need it.
Thus, it provides ample avenues for fulfilling the mandate of democratizing access to tertiary education. If the government wants to expand the access of poor but capable students to higher education, it only needs to allocate more funds to the grants-in aid component of UniFAST, the report said.
If it wants to finance more bright students, it only needs to put more resources on the scholarship component. If it wants to expand access for those who are neither poor nor bright but are college ready, it only needs to expand the allocation for student loans,it added.
The policy note pointed out that one of the main features of this law is full financing covering tuition, living allowance, and other instructional expenses of higher education. //

Author:
Date: February 10, 2017
Source: Malaya

QUEZON CITY, Feb. 10 - The Philippines needs to develop an enabling "ecosystem" of policies and institutions to scale up social enterprises.
In a recent study released by the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), authors Marife Ballesteros and Gilberto Llanto remarked that social enterprises can be an important force in addressing the gaps between the country's paradoxical experience of positive growth and persistent poverty.
Ballesteros and Llanto, PIDS acting vice president and president, respectively, noted that the current policy environment has failed to capture the needs of social enterprises which in turn has hampered their growth. The emergence of community economies, which include social enterprises, presents a unique set of policy and institutional requirements.
Social enterprises, compared to for-profit enterprises and nonprofit organizations, are businesses that put communities at the center of their enterprise. At the core of their objectives include promoting social welfare, enabling sustainable development, and encouraging investments for empowering communities.
Currently, the United Nations has included community economy as part of its social and solidarity economy agenda, which gives attention and support to businesses that "can be vehicles for profit, people empowerment, peace, and other moral imperatives".
A 2013 survey by the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia reported that around 30,000 organizations in the Philippines may be classified as social enterprises. They are made up of firms in various forms, including social cooperatives, fair trade organizations, microfinance institutions, and trading and development companies.
Currently, there is a proposed bill in Congress that focuses on addressing the policy needs of social enterprises. Like the Magna Carta for MSMEs and the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act, the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship or PRESENT Act includes important provisions on tax exemptions, special credit windows and guarantee funds, support for local government units, and other considerations like cash incentives for social enterprises that employ people with disabilities, comprehensive insurance for calamities, and resources from the government for comprehensive capacity building.
Ballesteros and Llanto explained that unlike the other two laws, the PRESENT bill does not promote the exemption of social enterprises from the minimum wage law. This is because they "are known to pay above the minimum wage and apply other fair trade principles".
However, the bill faces visceral challenges, including a question of definitions, where there is currently a "lack of agreement" on what differentiates social enterprise activities from those of for-profit and nonprofit entities. There is also a question of social enterprises overlapping with social protection policies and programs of the government.
That said, the authors acknowledge the potential of social enterprises as an avenue to respond to social challenges left unmet by existing entities"whether they are of the state, the for-profit sector, or the nonprofit sector.
"The Philippines has a social and cultural environment conducive for social entrepreneurship to emerge. This is largely attributed to the widespread focus in the country on the bottom-of-the-pyramid issues and the strong participation of the civil society and the private sector in social issues," concluded the authors.
It would beneficial for the Philippines to nurture that environment through sound policies. (PIDS)//

Author:
Date: February 10, 2017
Source: PIA

1 THE TAX BILL.
This comprehensive tax reform legislation is critical for a sustainable macro situation, addressing pressing infrastructure constraints, and for needed social spending. This will spell the difference between our muddling through at the historic 4%-5% GDP growth average, and the 7% more inclusive growth with low unemployment and underemployment that the country needs to bring so many of our people out of poverty.

The first package of this reform bill, that includes the increase in fuel excises hand in hand with lower personal income taxes for the less well off, is now being deliberated in Congress. I noticed that compromises have already been accommodated in the revised bill for greater political palatability (e.g. deletion of the scrapping of VAT exemptions for seniors, staggering of the fuel tax in three stages, a higher top marginal income tax rate).
One hopes that this revised bill will pass by mid year.
Its early passage will yield a major boost to the credibility of the administration, and its ten-point economic agenda. This is much needed at this time as the investment climate has suffered from policy drift or confusion in important areas -- conversion of agricultural lands, mining, labor contracting (endo).
There were also setbacks in peace and security front with the Korean businessmans murder under police custody precipitating the Presidents own dismay with our entire police system, and the collapse of talks with the communists.
Finally, the slow progress on DoTr concerns (e.g. lack of decision on a second airport, congressional intervention on the common mass transport station, inability to secure so called emergency powers for the traffic crisis). Even the apparently simple delivery on drivers licenses and car plates stalled.

The moment of truth has arrived.
We in the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) asked Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III when we had him as our speaker last month for President Duterte to now invest his substantial (but based on history, inevitably eroding) political capital on this. Former Finance Sec. Gary Teves, then a Congressman during the administration of President Ramos, urged weekly LEDAC meetings on this until the law is passed.

2 FREE TUITION IN STATE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES (SUCS).
Our Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) issued a statement questioning the wisdom of this based on a study by FEF and Philippine Institute for Development Studies Fellows Dr. Aniceto Orbeta and Dr. Vicente Paqueo. From us who passionately believe that good intentions are not enough, they must be matched by the right instruments.
(To read the policy note of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, please visit the http://bit.ly/freetuitionSUCs.)

The Secretaries of Finance, Budget, and Socioeconomic Planning likewise adopted this position in a memorandum to the President and Cabinet.
As argued by Drs. Orbeta and Paqueo, tuition in SUCs only comprises a third of the college costs. Such partial financing, is anti-poor since only those who have the resources to pay the rest of the costs will avail of the subsidy. They also showed that most of those who are enrolled in the SUCs come from higher income groups. Those from bottom 20% comprise only 12% of the student population.
They expressed concern that free tuition in SUCs will have the following effects:
a) trigger an exodus of students towards SUCs, exacerbating the lopsided benefits in favor of the relatively well off; b) impact the quality of instruction in the SUCs as they are flooded with new enrollees. The national government will thus be saddled with trying to address this, will then transfer the burden of educating the relatively well off to the public, in a regressive way.
They propose instead that the government fully fund the Unified Student Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) law, which was enacted in 2015. The UniFAST unifies all modalities of publicly funded Student Financial Assistance Programs -- scholarships, grants in aid and student loans for tertiary education. It does so without a bias for SUCs, and empowers the students to choose where they wish to study. (There are places where there are no SUCs.)
Shouldnt public moneys be more prudently used supporting the poor students in accordance with their needs, and empowering them to choose where they wish to study, instead of just be limited to SUCs? Many of SUCs are politicized, wasteful, and poorly run based on CHED and board examination records. Lets support students, not suckers.
3 A DIGITAL NATION.
I had the privilege of listening to Secretary Rodolfo Salalima at the Wallace Business Forum speak on his vision for the Dept. of Information and Communication Technology (DICT). This is an agency Peter Wallace advocated vigorously to be established.
It is serendipitous for the President (and the public) that he had someone like Secretary Salalima as among the stellar graduates of his San Beda law class. Besides being a bar topnotcher, he is one of the pioneers in the industry, with involvement dating back to the 1990s -- the establishment of SkyCable, Smart Communications, then Globe Telecommunications.
He gave us an outline of the vision and challenges of his department which he said will consult all stakeholders, especially consumers, in a Telecom Summit in March.
Among the elements in DICTs program are:
a) a National Government Portal, a one-stop gateway to whatever you need from government, b) a government common platform as a common repository of data and information, c) a national broadband strategy.

On the last item, I had just received notice from the SSRN, a multidisciplinary online repository of scholarly research (ssrn.com) of a most relevant industry study done by UP Professor Emeritus Epictetus Patalinghug, et al. The study -- Assessment of the Structure, Conduct, and Performance of the Philippine Telecommunications Industry can be read by visiting the link http://bit.ly/telcostudy.

The study done with 3 other professors from UP, AIM, and Southern Connecticut State University provides objective and deep analysis on the following subjects: market and competitive analysis, spectrum management, and broadband policy. Its a must-read for people who are serious about understanding the industry and earnestly looking for solutions to improve broadband service in the Philippines moving forward, a collaborative mission for government and its various units, and the private sector.

From my quick read, it confirms what I know as a Globe Board director that the present two-player structure is fiercely competitive. That the rate of change of average Internet connection speed is increasing and the gap will soon be bridged by new investment in network facilities. And that the only realistic third player is the government, which must build a last mile network that is not financially viable for private operators to build.
Next month, there will be a Telecom conference. We all look forward to listening to Secretary Salalima on his, and other stakeholders -- especially consumers -- take on this academic research.//
Romeo L. Bernardo is a board director of the Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis. He was undersecretary of Finance during Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos administrations.


Author: Romeo L. Bernardo
Date: February 13, 2017
Source: Business World

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said it will release the results of a survey that sought to determine the knowledge, perception and attitudes of Filipinos on market competition in April.
The PSA said the survey was commissioned by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), an anti-trust body attached to the Office of the President.
The survey also aims to obtain data on Filipinos knowledge, perception and attitudes on the laws and regulations governing business competition, according to the PSA.
The level of awareness of the Philippine Competition Act [PCA], and the households familiarity with PCC and its responsibilities is also aimed to be measured in the survey, the PSA said.
The survey, worth P995,000, will be undertaken through face-to-face personal interviews with 1,200 respondents, aged 15 to 64, in the National Capital Region and urban areas of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
The provinces that will be included in the survey are Pangasinan, Pampanga and Batangas in Luzon; Iloilo, Leyte and Cebu in the Visayas; and Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur and South Cotabato in Mindanao.
Data to be obtained through the survey include respondents monthly income, occupation, educational attainment, perceived benefits of market competition, and the existence of competition among businesses offering goods and services.
The information to be obtained includes Filipinos perception on anti-competitiveness behavior, relevance of a competition agency, and ways to enhance the PCCs visibility among Filipinos.
The survey was cleared for conduct on January 23 under the Statistical Survey Review and Clearance System (SSRCS).
The PCC was created in February 2016 as provided for under Republic Act 10667, otherwise known as the Philippine Competition Act, passed in July 2015.
Part of its mandate is to review mergers and acquisitions (M and A) that may impede competition to the detriment of the consumers.
In just a year, the antitrust body has received 80 notifications for M and A deals, as well as eight referrals for possible anti-competitive behavior in some sectors.
Quality data
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) urged the government to increase its investments in statisticians and statistics if it wants to produce quality data.


In a policy note, Pids senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert said the PSA has only filled 68 percent of its plantilla positions, making it difficult to address gaps in statistical production and absorptive capacity.
Albert added that the use of alternative data sources is key in improving the products and services provided by the PSA, particularly in addressing data requirements for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Statistics are about credibility and integrity. Government will need to continue investing in statistics, in statisticians and in the statistical system to ensure that the official statistics of the country continue to be viewed well, and will fare even much better than its current standing, Albert said.
These efforts must be implemented together with increased regular meetings of technical committees and improving access to PSA data, particularly in light of the executive order on Freedom of Information.
Albert also said ensuring the independence of the PSA from politics is key to providing quality statistics in the country.
National statistical offices in Indonesia are functionally attached to the Office of the President and in Malaysia, the Office of the Prime Minister.
The Philippine Statistical Act puts the PSA under the National Economic and Development Authority, but the law does not make explicit mention of separating statistical releases from political statements, nor are there currently any standards and guidelines on this, Albert said.
While the PSA defines an advance release calendar [ARC] for major economic statistics, there is no legal anchor for it and other statistics producers to publish and adhere to an ARC that can protect the integrity and independence of statistics, he added.
Based on the Open Data Inventory scores of Asean member-states, the Philippines ranked 63rd among 125 countries assessed in 2016. This is the highest ranking in the region.
Albert said the Philippines obtained the highest score in the data category for economic statistics for coverage and the lowest score in environmental statistics for openness.
In terms of disaggregation, the Philippines had the best coverage in balance of payments and national accounts statistics, and least coverage in pollution statistics.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 12, 2017
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - Economic managers are opposing proposals to fully subsidize tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs), saying it would not be beneficial to the poor and would be a financial drain for the government.

In a position paper submitted to President Duterte, economic managers recommended as an alternative fully funding the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST), an existing program that rationalizes the allocation, utilization and targeting of recipients of assistance.
The paper was signed by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Bejamin Diokno.
They argued that providing free tuition in all SUCs would benefit households with greater resources more than poor households as tuition is only a fraction of the total cost of higher education. As such, households that have more income would benefit more from the proposal because they have the resources to finance the rest of the expenses.
In 2014, the economic managers said only 12 percent of the students attending SUCs belonged to the bottom 20 percent based on Annual Poverty Indicators Survey or the countrys family income classification.
An untargeted tuition subsidy, therefore, will mostly benefit those who belong to the upper 80 percent who can otherwise pay for college education.
While we commit to the constitutional provision mandating the state to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education and to make such education available to all, we do not agree that providing an across-the board free tuition for all undergraduates in all SUCs is the best way to achieve this mandate, the economic managers said.
The bigger chunk of college education cost is for living expenses and instructional materials. Accordingly, with the governments provision of free tuition to all SUC students, poor students would still be unable to pay for the remaining two-thirds balance of college education cost, thereby still preventing them from sending their children to college, they added.
This position is aligned with that of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which is contained in a recently-published policy note titled: Who benefits from an Untargeted Tuition Subsidy for Students in SUCs?
Several bills for the provision of free tuition in SUCs have been filed in Congress. These include House Bill 5905, Senate Bills 1304, 158, 177, 198 and 962 " all of which cite the constitutional provision mandating the state to protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels.
This years national budget includes an P8.3-billion budget for SUCs that have been barred from collecting tuition in the coming school year.
Private higher educational institutions (HEIs) have also opposed this proposal, citing a massive migration of students to SUCs due to the reduction of price of education. The drop in enrollment would result in faculty entrenchment and difficulty sustaining operations of private HEIs.
The government should not allow this to happen because the overall quality of graduates would suffer, given that a number of private HEIs perform better than SUCs, stated the position paper.
Economic managers also pointed out that the state may be unable to sustain financing the increase in demand for an artificially inexpensive college education.
The budgetary support for free tuition will be difficult to sustain, they said.
Fully funding the UniFAST program, they said, would be a more viable alternative to fully subsidizing tuition in SUCs as this program is targeted and provides not only tuition but also other college-related expenses such as cost of living allowance and other instructional expenses.
The grants-in-aid component of the program provides poor but capable students access to higher education.
Students receiving assistance under the program can choose to attend public or private schools.
The government should implement its mandate of promoting quality and accessible education within the limits of fiscal prudence, and with the use of appropriate tools and targeting mechanism. The UniFAST is better designed to ensure a more efficient and effective use of government funds, the economic managers said.
Earlier, Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan was criticized after issuing a similar statement in a television interview.
The poorest of the poor are not yet in college. They have been knocked out long ago and enrollment of the poorest quintile in higher education is only eight percent. So its not going to benefit the poor, she said.
In the said interview, the CHED chair stressed her support for any policy that will expand access to quality education, but noted that they have to address concerns over the implementation of the free tuition policy.
CHED has already transmitted to the budget department the implementing rules that it crafted for the utilization of the P8.3-billion allocation in the current budget to SUCs to cover tuition of students.
Not anti-poor
Despite the mounting opposition, various groups maintained that institutionalizing the free tuition policy is a right step forward toward achieving President Dutertes campaign promise to provide free education for all.
Despite the limitations and vulnerability to corrupt practices and political patronage in the educational system, we view the proposed free tuition as a necessary first step to liberate it from the shackles imposed by educator-capitalists and steer away from public-private partnership schemes, the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan said in a statement.
The group asserted that the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF)s contention is fallacious, noting that the pending proposals do not automatically mean that higher-income students will benefit solely from a free tuition policy.
The data (presented by FEF) merely established the current and dismal state of public tertiary education in the country and will only further worsen unless meaningful reforms such as free tuition are enacted, said the youth group.
This is precisely what the proposed free tuition needs to rectify since it will encourage poor students to avail of free tuition and will also discourage poor college students from dropping out of school, they added.
League of Filipino Students spokesman JP Rosos said FEF ignored the fact that sky-rocketing tuition is among the reasons why only a handful of poor students are in college.//

Author: Czeriza Valencia with Janvic Mateo
Date: February 12, 2017
Source: Philippine Star

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) issued separate statements saying that while well-meaning, the proposed P8.3-billion program to provide tuition-free tertiary education in all state universities and colleges (SUCs) is largely anti-poor, as a majority of those who will benefit come from high-income families.

Recently, the countrys economic managers " namely, NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, DOF Sec. Carlos G. Dominguez, and DBM Sec. Benjamin Diokno " released a joint position paper recommending that instead of the policy proposals across-the-board, shotgun approach, the large budget allocation would be better spent under guidelines that specifically target poor and disadvantaged students. President Duterte already issued a conditional veto for the proposal, barring its implementation until CHED and the DBM come up with those guidelines.

For sure, it is a welcome development that government now has the funds to allocate " as well as the political will " to fully subsidize tuitions for all students in SUCs. But even as we get more of our youth into higher education, it is imperative we ensure today that there will be jobs waiting for them once they graduate.

Several studies have already demonstrated that the way ahead will be full of challenges. For instance, a 2015 ILO report on labor market trends in the Philippines noted that among the youth, up to 88.6 percent of those who were unemployed had at least a high school diploma. In fact up to 39.3 percent of unemployed Filipino youth had a college degree or at least finished some post-secondary units.

Another is a 2015 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on the global diaspora that identified the Philippines as the second-largest sender " next only to India " of highly educated immigrants to OECD countries for the period between 2010 and 2011.

A recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) study appears to support the mentioned OECD report, finding that in 2010, up to 64 percent of the Philippines highly skilled (tertiary-educated) workforce left the country, marking the largest brain drain among ASEAN members that year.

Something is clearly wrong when after spending at least a decade and a half studying, college graduates dont find enough economic opportunities waiting for them. Part of the cause is the perennial problem with job-skills mismatch. Many students end up taking courses for careers where competition is too high, while job openings in other professions stay vacant because there are not enough qualified applicants.

Making our SUCs tuition-free may be a very big and important step forward for the country. But clearly, it is not enough to ensure the long-term success of our children. Without efforts to create more high-paying jobs for highly skilled graduates or guide students to courses that lead to professions with many job openings, pushing for tuition-free college education may only mean that we are ushering even more highly skilled and educated Filipinos to look for jobs abroad.//

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Author: Edgardo Angara
Date: February 11, 2017
Source: Manila Bulletin