The stalemate over the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019 is also causing a delay in the release of the 4th tranche salary increase of 3,000 Negros Occidental provincial government employees that was supposed to start this month, Provincial Budget Officer Jose Percival Salado said yesterday.
Although the provincial government has already allotted P65.5 million for the salary increase this year, they need a Department of Budget and Management circular authorizing its release, Salado said.
Salado said the DBM has not issued the circular so local government units, not affected by the national budget release, cannot move.
It appears that the DBM has not issued the circular because it is claiming that the stalemate is preventing it from being able release the fourth phase of the salary increases for government employees.
But Senator Panfilo Lacson, in a press statement yesterday, said the stalemate should not be a reason to put on hold a scheduled salary increase for government workers.
The DBM can use P99.446 billion under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MBPF) in the 2018 budget for the purpose, Lacson said.
“Mr. DBM Secretary, implement the salary increase now. It is not unconstitutional,” he said in a post on his Twitter account.
“Pointing to a re-enacted budget won't fly,” he added.
Lacson noted that of the P99.4 billion in the MPBF in the 2018 budget, P62.8 billion is for Compensation Adjustment, while P12.36 billion is for Stafing Modification Upgrading of Salaries.
"Obviously, there is legal basis as there are funds to implement the salary hike, especially for the first quarter of 2019," he said.
Earlier, DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno said it may be unconstitutional to implement a new round of salary increases for government workers without passing the proposed 2019 budget first.
Government is presently operating on the reenacted budget for 2018, until the 2019 budget is signed into law. The Senate is due to resume deliberations on the proposed 2019 budget starting January 14.
Lacson in December unearthed and questioned several pork-like insertions in the proposed 2019 budget that has caused the delay in its passage.
Meanwhile, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon yesterday said he is asking the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to revert the provincial government’s newly created Human Resource Department back to a division, and dissolve the Organic Farming Division in compliance with a DBM directive.
The DBM has disallowed the Negros Occidental provincial government’s 2018 allocation of P504,457,935 in excess of its Personal Services (PS) cap.
The DBM also said the newly created positions for the new department and division are illegal, Salado said. “The Commission on Audit has also directed us to follow the decision of the DBM,” he added.
Salado said the seven Capitol employees assigned to the Organic Farming Division will be re-assigned to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist.
Meanwhile, 11 employees at the Human Resource Department will be affected by its being reverted back to a division, he said.
That is because the four who were promoted, including Human Resource Department head Anabelle Palic, will return to their old posts, he said.
Marañon said Palic who became a department head will return to becoming an assistant department head.
Seven others were casuals made permanent employees with the creation of the Human Resource Department, Salado added.
They can either be given equivalent positions available in other departments or return to being casuals, he said.
Marañon denied the DBM ruling that the provincial government spent P504,457,935 in excess of its Personal Services cap in 2018, saying the Capitol even had savings since not all provincial government posts had been filled.
Salado said the Capitol in fact had savings of more than P550 million from the amount it allocated in 2018 for salaries.*
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