4th tranche of salary increase expected in February
In a statement, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the DBM would implement retroactively the fourth tranche of wage hike under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) once the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is signed, which is expected by the first week of February.
Edd Gumban
4th tranche of salary increase expected in February
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is expected to release the fourth tranche of salary increase for government workers next month with the enactment of the 2019 national budget, an official said yesterday.

In a statement, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the DBM would implement retroactively the fourth tranche of wage hike under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) once the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is signed, which is expected by the first week of February.

“With pronouncements from Congress that the budget bill will be their top priority upon resumption next week, we expect the GAA to be signed first week February,” the DBM chief said.

Diokno noted that government employees will start to enjoy higher salaries starting February and will be entitled to their salary differential for this month.

The fourth and final tranche of wage hike under the SSL was supposed to be implemented this month, but was deferred as Congress failed to pass the 2019 national budget before the end of last year.

Diokno earlier said the scheduled increase cannot be implemented until the 2019 GAA was legislated.

Amid calls from lawmakers to implement the increase, the DBM chief maintained that there was no legal basis for adjusting the pay.

He cited Executive Order (EO) No. 201, series of 2016, which provides that the implementation of the salary schedule was “subject to appropriations by Congress.”

“Accordingly, Section 15 of the same EO, in identifying the funding source for the salary adjustments, provides that the DBM shall be authorized to implement or adjust the compensation corresponding to the appropriations provided in the GAA,” Diokno added.

He also stressed that Congress Joint Resolution No. 3, series of 2018 only extends the validity for capital outlays and maintenance and other operating expenses and does not cover personnel services.

Diokno added that the extension of the 2018 budget cannot be used for the compensation adjustment.

The DBM chief reiterated that government personnel would be able to enjoy further wage increases starting 2020 until 2022.

He said the Governance Commission For Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) is contracting an independent firm to conduct a study on the wage structure of government workers vis-a-vis their private sector counterparts.

“The DBM will be utilizing this data to craft a new salary schedule for government workers to be implemented starting 2020,” Diokno said.

According to Diokno, funding for the study has been allocated to the budget of the GCG for this year.

He said the GCG is conducting early procurement for the independent researcher so they may proceed with the conduct of the study as soon as the 2019 GAA is passed.

“Results from the study are expected to be delivered by the independent firm before end of June this year. Consequently, the DBM will come out with a proposed salary schedule by the third quarter of 2019,” Diokno said.

Meanwhile, senators continued yesterday to press for the release of the funding for the fourth tranche of the salary increase for government workers.

Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Panfilo Lacson in separate statements disputed Diokno’s claim that the release of funds to finance the fourth tranche was unconstitutional since Congress has yet to approve the proposed national budget for this year.

Aquino said the reenacted 2018 GAA, which the government is now using as its spending authority, provides for the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) that the DBM can tap to fund authorized personnel and benefit items, including pay increases.

“Why is it when it comes to increasing taxes, the government acts fast but when it comes to increasing salaries, it becomes a tedious thing?” Aquino said.

“The government should not hold hostage salary increases. It’s not true there is no source of funds for this,” he said.

The lawmaker said the pay hikes can help government employees deal with the prevailing high prices of food and other goods.

He said he intends to file a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that DBM can disburse the MPBF for the salary increase of government workers.                    

Lacson noted that the MPBF has P99.446 billion and there is basis in law to use it.

“Pointing to a reenacted budget won’t fly,” Lacson told Diokno in his Twitter account.

He said of the P99.4 billion in the MPBF in the 2018 budget, P62.8 billion is for Compensation Adjustment, while P12.36 billion is for Staffing Modification and Upgrading of Salaries.

“Obviously, there is legal basis as there are funds to implement the salary hike, especially for the first quarter of 2019,” Lacson said. – With Paolo Romero, Sheila Crisostomo

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