Unused budget of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of about P640 million will be earmarked for the construction of 2,000 cost-effective classrooms nationwide, Senator Franklin Drilon said yesterday, filling in the gaps in classroom shortage in the country.

Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman has agreed with the proposal that the project would be undertaken by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), which has partnered with the senator in constructing cost-effective public school buildings.

“This initiative will effectively address our problem of classroom shortage,” said Drilon, adding that the savings of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) mainly comes from the program’s implementation cost.

The program has been endorsed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Drilon stated.

Drilon had earlier questioned the unusually high overhead cost of the program, saying the fund should be realigned to bankroll construction of classrooms, day care centers and core shelters.

The cost of construction under the FFCCCII is relatively lower at P640,000 per building which has two classrooms, compared to an average of P800,000 per classroom under the government’s program. The initiative

The country faces a 66,800-classroom backlog for this year, according to Education officials.

As of September this year, a total of 2.23 million households were registered in the program, from the target of 2.3 million families. The government intends to enroll an additional 700,000 household beneficiaries next year.

The Aquino administration is allotting P39.4 billion for the program in the 2012 budget, from this year’s P21 billion funding.

To date, the Drilon-FFCCCII schoolbuilding program has built about 1,400 classrooms all over the country since the project started in 2002. The fund comes from Drilon’s Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.