CHED only used 40% of ₱3.3-B online learning budget in 2020 - COA

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State auditors flagged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)'s slow spending of the ₱3.3-billion fund it received for online learning. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — State auditors flagged the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)'s slow spending of the ₱3.3-billion fund it received for online learning.

In its annual report, the Commission on Audit (COA) said CHED only used 40.61% or ₱1.3 billion out of the total allotment in 2020.

Most of the unused funds were allotted for financial and material assistance to state universities and colleges (SUCs) for the development of smart campuses.

Based on audit inquiries, necessary technical reviews caused delays in the implementation of programs. "The review process took some time as this involves iterations of comments from experts and revisions by proponent SUCs," COA said.

Auditors recommended that CHED come up with a catch up strategy to immediately address setbacks encountered.

Unutilized 'B2HELP' Funds

Auditors also flagged CHED regional offices in NCR and Ilocos for unutilized subsidy funds under the Bayanihan 2 for Higher Education Tulong Program (B2HELP).

The B2HELP aims to provide a one-time grant of ₱5,000 to qualified students whose families are facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of a total budget of over ₱71.3 million, COA said some ₱26.2 million remain unused as of December 31, 2020.

"Hence deprived some qualified grantees of their financial benefits which could have contributed for their educational needs," auditors said.

However, COA also noted that participating higher education institutions failed to submit complete and appropriate application documents within the required schedule.