The government is committed to grant another round of salary increase for government workers this year.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said they have set aside funds for the pay hike of state workers in the 2017 national budget but will still ask Congress to pass a measure allowing such salary adjustment.
“We are now on our second tranche of a four-tranche salary adjustment ….We gave the salary increase last year. There will be another round of salary increase this year, both for civilian and military and policemen,” Diokno said in a Malacañang news conference.
“There’s already an allocation in the 2017 budget for a salary increase, second tranche, but we will go to Congress and ask for authority,” he said.
The budget secretary is optimistic that Congress will adopt a measure allowing the latest salary adjustment for state workers. “And going by the behavior of Congress, they won’t object to a salary increase, because it’s a popular move,” he added.
Diokno said the government’s option to seek congressional authority is in contrast to the executive order merely issued by then President Aquino to carry out the first tranche of the salary increase last year. Aquino’s EO on the salary hike did not get congressional approval, he added.
In February, 2016, Aquino took presidential action to raise the government workers’ salaries after Congress failed to pass the proposed Salary Standardization Law which would have implemented a four-year salary hike program.
“The previous administration made a downpayment in 2016. And we are going to honor it. But there is maybe a legal defect because it did not go through Congress; it’s just incorporated in the budget,” Diokno said.
In the case of the military, Diokno said they plan to double the take-home pay of soldiers by January, 2018, in line with the directive of the President. He said the government has already raised the combat pay of soldiers by 200 percent.
“As far as the military is concerned, we will be able to comply with the desire of the President to double their take-home pay by January of 2018 — sooner, if we pass the tax reform law, because tax reform would mean reducing the personal income tax rate from a maximum of 32 percent to 25 percent,” he said.
Public school teachers will also be among those who will benefit from the salary increase this year, according to Diokno.
“But it does not mean that we will double their salary because right now, the pay of public school teachers is much higher than the pay of private school teachers, two to one,” he said.
“It would be inappropriate for us to tax the general public just to double the salary of teachers whose pay right now is already more than competitive,” he added.
source: Manila Bulletin / January 4, 2017
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