Duterte signs law grant­ing free pub­lic ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion

New Straits Times - - World -

MANILA: Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has signed a law grant­ing tu­ition-free ed­u­ca­tion in all state univer­si­ties, a cab­i­net of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day, set­ting aside the ad­vice of his eco­nomic man­agers to re­ject the mea­sure.

Se­nior deputy ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra said Duterte be­lieved the ben­e­fits of the law out­weighed the po­ten­tial short-term bud­getary chal­lenges.

Duterte’s eco­nomic man­agers said the gov­ern­ment would not be able to af­ford the cost of free tu­ition, es­ti­mated at 100 bil­lion pe­sos (RM23 bil­lion) a year, adding that tu­ition-free ed­u­ca­tion in state univer­si­ties and col­leges (SUCs) would not ben­e­fit the poor as only 12 per cent of SUCs’ stu­dents be­long to low-in­come fam­i­lies.

“Free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion in SUCs is a strong pil­lar or cor­ner­stone of the pres­i­dent’s so­cial de­vel­op­ment pol­icy,” Gue­varra said.

Se­na­tor Franklin Drilon said the mea­sure would only re­quire 20 bil­lion to 25 bil­lion pe­sos a year, much less than the eco­nomic man­agers’ es­ti­mate.

Duterte’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has planned a whop­ping US$180 bil­lion (RM769 bil­lion) in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing un­til the end of the pres­i­dent’s term.

To fund that, the gov­ern­ment has asked law­mak­ers to pass new rev­enue mea­sures.

Duterte’s eco­nomic pro­gramme fo­cuses on in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing and fis­cal ef­fi­ciency to lift growth to as much as eight per cent be­fore his six-year term ends in 2022. Reuters

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