Government payroll to hit P2.2 billion a day next year

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has been urged to unveil the pay hike package it is proposing for the nation's civil servants, if any, so that it can be studied in earnest by Congress and by the state employees themselves.

Teachers rally to ask salary increase
Teachers rally to ask salary increase | Photo Credit:

The call was made by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, who said that "serious discussions" on adjusting government pay should go hand in hand with 2016 national budget deliberations.

"We should go beyond hints and teasers and start tackling proposals on the table," Recto said.

Last week, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was reported as "hinting" that a round of salary adjustments in the public sector "is possible" before President Aquino steps down from office in June next year.

Government pay is governed by a Salary Standardization Law (SSL). The last and third edition of the SSL was enacted in 2009, and was implemented in four annual tranches which ended in 2012.

According to Recto, an "SSL IV" is needed, "but crafting it requires a thorough review and broad consultation."

"One critical aspect is the funding - clear sources of funds must be identified. It is easy to pick a figure. The challenge is to raise the cash to fund the increase," he said.

On this, Recto said "a budget space" can be created out of next year's proposed P3 trillion appropriations.

"Kayang gawan ng paraan kung talagang gusto," Recto said.

He stressed that any pay hike should prioritize teachers, policemen, firemen and soldiers, as they constitute about four-fifths of the government workforce.

"Ito yung Police Officer 1, Teacher 1, Firemen 1. They're mostly clustered around the Salary Grade 11 to 13 brackets. They get a basic monthly pay of between P18,549 to P21,436. These are the people who are in need of a salary hike," he said.

At present, the government's "Compensation and Position Classification System" has 33 salary grades. Except for Grade 33, which is occupied by one person, the President, each salary grade has eight steps.

"So there are a total of 257 pay categories which must be studied and adjusted. There must be distinctions and differentiation between and within the salary grades," Recto said.

"What makes the job harder is that all of these 257 pay categories must be accommodated within a ceiling, which at present is P120,000 a month--the salary the President gets," he explained.

At the other end of the spectrum is the P9,000 monthly salary of a Salary Grade 1, Step 1 holder, the entry-level post in government.

Paying the salaries of these employees plus military pensioners and veterans cost P746 billion at present. This expense class is called in budgeting as "Personal Services" (PS).

With the hiring of more personnel, mostly teachers, plus a rise in the number of uniformed personnel pensioner, PS expenses will rise to P810.8 billion next year.

At present, there are 1,433,186 permanent positions in the national government plantilla.

"Dahil sa laki ng bilang ng empleyado ng gobyerno, when we plan any increase in pay, we should be mindful of the fact that any increase in the salaries of government workers will be shouldered ultimately by their employers - the people," Recto said.

PS costs have grown by 77.2 percent since 2010, from P457.6 billion to the proposed P810.8 billion in the 2016 budget.

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