DBM in­sists salary in­crease of gov’t work­ers should await 2019 bud­get

Business World - - The Economy - Eli­jah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE DEPART­MENT of Bud­get and Man­age­ment (DBM) said it is not au­tho­rized to re­lease the fourth round of gov­ern­ment salary in­creases un­der a re-en­acted bud­get amid pres­sure from leg­is­la­tors.

In a news con­fer­ence on Mon­day, Bud­get Sec­re­tary Ben­jamin E. Dio­kno main­tained the DBM’s po­si­tion that the 2019 bud­get will trig­ger the re­lease of salary in­creases un­der the Salary Stan­dard­iza­tion Law.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Rolando G. An­daya, Jr. has asked the Supreme Court to is­sue a writ of man­damus to com­pel the Bud­get depart­ment to re­lease the funds.

“We wel­come it so that the is­sue will be solved once and for all. There’s a dif­fer­ence in his in­ter­pre­ta­tion... to them it’s a man­damus case,” Mr. Dio­kno said.

“We have to wait for the pas­sage of the 2019 Gen­eral Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Act. (GAA) Oth­er­wise, we do not have le­gal ba­sis for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fourth tranche,” he added.

Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 201, which pro­vides for the com­pen­sa­tion sched­ule of civil­ian per­son­nel, ap­plies “sub­ject to ap­pro­pri­a­tions by Congress.”

Both cham­bers failed to rat­ify the 2019 bud­get be­fore the end of 2018, which au­to­mat­i­cally reen­acts the 2018 bud­get — mean­ing no new projects or pro­grams can be funded.

The bud­get was de­layed over crit­i­cism of the shift to a cash-based ap­pro­pri­a­tions scheme, as well as al­leged il­le­gal “in­ser­tions” that fa­vored cer­tain dis­tricts and fam­i­lies.

Mr. An­daya led the at­tack against the cash-based bud­get sys­tem and the sup­posed bud­get in­ser­tions.

Asked what Mr. Dio­kno thinks of the House leader’s re­cent moves, he replied that he prefers not to spec­u­late, but added that the cur­rent predica­ment could have been avoided if the leg­isla­tive branch had acted upon the bud­get promptly.

“Many of this had not hap­pened if Congress just ap­proved the GAA. Ap­prove the bud­get — that’s their pri­or­ity. We should re­ally avoid this reen­acted bud­get,” he said.

The DBM also dis­puted claims by Mr. An­daya that the gov­ern­ment can tap the mis­cel­la­neous per­son­nel ben­e­fits fund (MPBF) in the 2018 bud­get to fund the salary hike.

“The amounts in the MPBF are for the 2018 or third tranche. And in­cluded in the MPBF is the pay in­crease for mil­i­tary and un­formed per­son­nel so that ap­pro­pri­a­tion is spe­cific for the third tranche and the first im­ple­men­ta­tion of the base pay in­crease of mil­i­tary and uni­formed per­son­nel. It re­ally can’t cover the fourth tranche,” DBM As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Myrna S. Chua said in the same brief­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the DBM, about 1.7 mil­lion gov­ern­ment work­ers are af­fected of the pause in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the fourth round of the salary in­crease.

But once the 2019 bud­get is signed into law, the DBM will im­ple­ment it retroac­tively, pay­ing the salary dif­fer­en­tial.

Mr. Dio­kno said that he still ex­pects the 2019 bud­get to be rat­i­fied by Congress be­fore the end of the month and en­acted by Fe­bru­ary — be­fore the high court even or­ders a rul­ing.

“As far as I can re­mem­ber, they just ran out of time. There are some agen­cies that have not dis­cussed bud­gets on the floor. There are six agen­cies re­main­ing, and I don’t see any big prob­lems along the way. It’s just a mat­ter of time,” Mr. Dio­kno said. —

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