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State workers’ pay hike pushed

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Ahead of the presidential  elections in May 2016, President Aquino has  endorsed to Congress a bill that would mandate a P226-billion salary increase for state workers, Malacañang said on Monday.

Certified by Aquino as a priority measure was the “Salary Standardization Law of 2015”, which  proposes a P226-billion pay hike, spread over four years, for the national government’s 1.53-million civilian and  uniformed employees.

“The mandate is to determine the competitiveness of the government sector to the private sector,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters in a press briefing.

Under the SSL of 2015, there will be four tranches which is composed of a salary increase, a mid-year 14th month pay and an enhanced performance-based bonus  system. 

Abad said that at the end of the four tranches by 2019, the government pay, which is on the average at present is 55 percent of market rates will increase to 84 percent.

He said the lowest salary grade, Salary grade 1, or equivalent to Utility workers, will be about 154 percent of the market, while the highest salary grade, Salary Grade 33, which is the president, will be about 70 percent of the market.

The pay hike will cost the government P57.90 billion in 2016 after implementing a salary increase and 14th month pay; P54.39 billion in 2017; P65.97 billion in 2018; and P47.54 billion in 2019, according to the Budget,

The first tranche will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016 and the subsequent three tranches every Jan. 1 thereafter until the final tranche in 2019.

Abad said the budget requirement for the first tranche was already included in the P3.002-trillion budget bill  for 2016.

“The first increase is already included in GAA [General Appropriations Act]. We should be able to cover that [P57.906 billion] in the budget.  The computation is based on the authorized positions, we also have to look into consideration [that]  new positions is not exactly equal to actual filled positions. We also have to take into consideration possible increases in the positions being offered,” he added

The Senate reacted favorably to Aquino’s endorsement of the salary bill to the House of Representatives.

“We will fast-track the passage of the Salary Standardization Law 2015 before the year is over. In this manner, all public employees can already expect to enjoy higher wages starting next year,” said Senate President Franklin   Drilon. 

He  promised that  Senate will give the SSL 2015 “urgent legislative attention” alongside the proposed General Appropriations Bill, the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and other measures which the Senate and House of Representatives had agreed to pass before the 2016 election campaign kicks off.

Drilon said the proposed pay hike is “much-awaited and long overdue development” for the millions of government workers, who are paid much less compared to their counterparts in the private sector.

“The new compensation package being sought will fix the glaring discrepancies in the pay schemes between the public and private sectors,” he added.

The proposed SSL 2015, he said, will also solve the exodus of government workers, who leave their posts to seek greener pastures in the private sector and abroad.

According to Drilon, he and Senate Finance Committee chair Loren Legarda have agreed to co-author the proposed measure in the Senate.

“Even if the Senate is busy working on the 2016 National Budget and the Bangsamoro Basic Law, we will make time for the swift passage of this measure to implement the raise in the salary scheme in government,” Drilon said.

He likewise     said it is the primary reason why agencies experience difficulties in filling up vacancies in their offices, which, per Department of Budget and Management record, resulted in 191,988 unfilled positions in 2015. 

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