Senate President Franklin Drilon said Wednesday morning he filed a bill seeking a 45 percent salary increase of government workers including public elementary and secondary school teachers nationwide.
Drilon told DZRH News via Neil Ocampo’s “Arangkada Balita” that this is to encourage state employees to stay longer in government and boost their morale and productivity.
The legislative measure is contained in Senate Bill No. 3009, which mandates a weighted average increase of 45% in the total compensation of all government personnel over a four-year period.
“The economy is in the right course and we will take advantage of the favorable condition to raise the pay scheme in the government and align it with the compensation received by employees from the private sector,” Drilon said.
“It is about time that we adjust the salaries of the hardworking men and women who have helped the government to fulfill its mandates to the people,” he added. The bill is co-authored by Finance Committee chair Loren Legarda.
The Senate chief, who also served as labor secretary, said that the low pay rate is the main reason why the government could not keep its employees, as he expressed concern about the high turnover of positions in the government.
Citing a study commissioned by the Department of Budget and Management, Drilon said that the pay scheme in government is 45 percent below market.
This is particularly true for professionals and middle managers in government who only get around 41% and 25% of market rates, respectively. It is only the sub-professionals in government that receive 50% or more of market rates, Drilon noted.
Drilon also observed that some agencies are incapable of filling up vacant positions within a reasonable period of time, which inadvertently affects the smooth delivery of services to the people.
He noted that in 2015, there are 191,988 unfilled positions in government.
“The new compensation package will entice employees to remain on the job and attract competent applicants to be involved in government works,” Drilon underscored.
SBN 3009 will introduce a new compensation scheme that will bring the pay system in the government closer to the prevailing rates in the private sector, according to Drilon.
The proposed measure, which will cost P225.8 billion over four years, will ensure that salaries for each salary grade allocation of government personnel will not overlap to recognize differences in duties and responsibilities for the position, Drilon said.
Aside from the increases in the monthly salary of government personnel, the proposed measure also introduces an improved set of allowances and benefits, such as a 14th month pay, a mid-year bonus, and an enhanced performance-based bonus which can be equal or double the monthly salary.
“The bill will maximize the employees’ net take-home pay and recognize the government personnel who play a greater role and carry a heavier responsibility in improving government performance,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the Senate targets to pass the measure before the year is over. He is confident that with the support of both houses of Congress, employees, except for incumbent elected national officials, will be able to enjoy the new salary package starting January 1, 2016.
“There is really a need to pursue the new version of the SSL to increase the purchasing power of millions of our state workers, who could not cope with the inflation,” said Drilon.
“The new compensation package being sought will fix the glaring discrepancies in the pay schemes between the public and private sectors,” said Drilon.
Drilon said he will author the proposed measure in the Senate along with Senator Legarda. As early as last year, Drilon called on the Department of Budget and Management to review the government pay scale.
“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.
Drilon vowed that the 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 campaign kicks off.
“We will immediately file the draft law. I will immediately talk to my colleagues to give it special attention. We will calendar it for committee hearing and plenary deliberation at the soonest time possible, so we can guarantee its passage by the end of the year,” Drilon said.
Drilon said that the low pay rates in government sector discourage competitive and highly-skilled employees, even the fresh graduates, from working and staying in government.
He 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.
Drilon said that the proposed SSL 2015 will also solve the exodus of government workers, who leave their posts to seek greener pastures in the private sector and abroad. “An improved salary scheme will be the biggest morale booster for all public workers to excel in their work, and is important if the government wants to retains their employees and recruit more competent and driven professionals, especially the youth, into its ranks.”
Drilon said there are enough provisions in the General Appropriations Bill to fund the implementation of the first tranche of the salary increase.
Under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF), according to Drilon, P50.7 billion has been allotted for the salary increase.
“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,” Drilon said.
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.
“In a way, passing the SSL 2015 would be a great Christmas gift for the thousands of public employees around the country,” he added.
“I’m happy that we can finally move forward and make the SSL 2015 into law. There is really a need to pursue the new version of the Salary Standardization Law for the sake of our teachers, health workers, policemen and other government employees who receive wages that don’t fairly compensate the hard work they put in serving the people,” Drilon said.