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Salary increase for gov’t workers seen by February

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Benjamin E. Diokno
PHILSTAR/EDD GUMBAN

By Melissa Luz T. Lopez, Senior Reporter

GOVERNMENT WORKERS can expect to receive higher salaries next month as the 2019 budget is expected to be signed into law, the country’s Budget chief said, adding that succeeding pay hikes will be revealed later this year.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said on Friday that the fourth tranche of salary increases for state workers and officials is slated to be in effect by next month, just as Congress is expected to finalize and have the P3.575-trillion national budget signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in the “first week of February.”

This represents the final tranche of the salary standardization law (SSL), which provides for salary increases for all government employees which started in 2016.




Mr. Diokno has clarified that workers will be entitled to a salary differential to cover the delayed implementation of the pay hike which should have taken effect Jan. 1.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has also announced that work on a fresh SSL proposal has started, committing to higher salaries for state workers from 2020 to 2022.

The Governance Commission for GOCCs will soon tap an independent firm to study the wage structure of government workers versus their private sector counterparts, which will then be used in crafting the next wave of salary increases.

The GCG, however, cannot close the deal yet as funding for this study is under the 2019 budget bill.

“Results from the study are expected to be delivered by the independent firm before end of June this year. Consequently, the DBM will come out with a proposed salary schedule by the 3rd quarter of 2019,” the DBM said in a statement.

SUPPLIER PAYMENTS
In another development, the agency also released new rules to simplify the payment process done by government offices.

DBM Circular Letter 2018-14 requires suppliers or contractors without bank accounts in government servicing banks (GSBs) to coordinate the payment transfers using electronic clearing houses made available across lenders.

As a rule, all national government agencies (NGAs) do their transactions via the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

“The suppliers/creditors as remitter shall shoulder the cost of transferring payment from the NGAs GSB to other GSB and NGA’s GSB to other non-GSBs,” the DBM issuance read, which took effect Jan. 2.

These transactions can either go through the InstaPay platform, which facilitates real-time interbank transfers worth P50,000 and below, or the Philippine Electronic Fund Transfer System and Operations Network, which are digital clearing houses involving local banks.

However, those who cannot tap these platforms may still collect payments through checks or cash. This option is limited to small-value payees with claims less than P10,000, those with one-time transactions with the state, or those with existing accounts.

These fall under the DBM’s Modified Direct Payment Scheme, which is also meant to improve cash management for the Bureau of the Treasury who reported P22.7 billion in unclaimed checks as of end-June last year.