Saturday, 4 April 2009

Philippines allots more funds for classrooms

Bernardette S. Sto. Domingo

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday set aside P35 million for the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) to help fund its school-buildings projects.

The fresh capital will be sourced from the Presidential Social Fund. "You have to put the money into building more elementary classrooms to reduce the current student to classroom ratio of 100 to one classroom in one shift to 50 to one in two shifts," the President told incoming FFCCCII officers at the group’s 27th biennial convention at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay.

FFCCCII Chairman Emeritus Francis Chua, in a separate interview, said Mrs. Arroyo early this year signed Executive Order 784 granting tax exemptions to all individuals or companies who would support, contribute and donate to the "Operation: Barrio Schools" project.

The EO, signed in February, also authorized a one-year fundraising activity organized by the FFCCCII for the barrio schools program, an offshoot of the "Adopt-a-School Program" joint public-private venture. "When you donate money for a school building, the donor’s tax is waived," Mr. Chua said.

Under the EO, contributions or donations will be classified as exempt from all forms of taxes and allowed as deductible in full for income tax purposes in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations.

The tax perks will be effective for one year. Citing FFCCCII data, the group’s outgoing president Dr. John K. Tan said the federation has helped construct 4,000 schoolbuildings and 8,000 classrooms since 1960. "We hope to build 11,000 classrooms to help improve the learning conditions of the schoolchildren," Dr. Tan said.

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