No salary hike for government workers

Posted at 04/30/14 3:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Government workers will not get a salary increase this year for lack of budget, President Aquino has said.

Two days before meeting with leaders to discuss the issue with them, Aquino yesterday said he needed to be frank with the workers.

Aquino said he is no Scrooge, but he could not promise something that cannot be delivered.

The President said there are 1.6 million members of the bureaucracy and increasing their salary would entail a huge amount of money.

He said the government has just finished implementing the Salary Standardization Law III that mandated regular increase in the salaries of state workers. Granting another hike may result in deficit, he said.

Aquino said a budget deficit could affect the country’s credit ratings and they could not figure out at this time where to get the funds for the pay hike.

He blamed some corrupt government agencies for failing to generate revenues that could have provided funds for programs and projects like the salary increase.

“I will say ‘yes’ to you if only to earn brownie points here, but I will not. We can’t raise it now or next month... next year or the year after that,” Aquino said.

The President said the administration could not sacrifice social services like education and the conditional cash transfer program just to grant the salary increase.

Aquino said funds for the past salary increases of state employees only came from borrowings which, he said, would not be sustainable.

He said he could not promise a sustainable mechanism at this time without identifying the source of funding.

He said even the retirees’ pension is increasing and it is hard to balance the budget and address all problems at the same time.

The national budget for this year has no provision for the salary increase of state workers, as this would “entail huge money,” according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

There have been proposals to enact a Salary Standardization Law IV to allow government to project and determine future wage increases.

The first version of the SSL was enacted in 1989, the second in 1994, and SSL III in 2009.

The fourth and last installment of SSL III was given in 2012. In 2006, state workers received a P1,000 across-the-board wage increase, and a 10-percent increase in 2007 and 2008 before the four-installment SSL III took effect in July 2009.

The DBM estimated in 2008 that the full implementation of SSL III would cost P128 billion a year.