House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte vows to pass “Salary Standardization Law of 2015”
By Sammy F. Martin


MANILA, Nov. 9 (PNA) -- Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.on Monday vowed to immediately enact into law the proposed Php226 billion four-year “Salary Standardization Law of 2015,” which offers 14th month pay for 1.53 million state workers and officials on the first year of implementation in 2016.

“We will study and pass it in time for 2016 implementation because we believe that this is a very important measure that will provide economic relief to our state workers,” Belmonte said in an interviewon the proposed law.

On top of the 14th month pay, the average lowest increase in the first year of implementation is almost Php500 monthly under Salary Grade 1, or from the present Php9,000, to Php9,478 during the first year and will reach Php11,068 in the fourth year.

On the first year of implementation, the President’s salary is Php160,924 and almost Php400,000 in the fourth year under Salary Grade 33.

Belmonte, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, who chairs the House committee on appropriations, House Minority Leader and San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, and Romblon Rep. Eleandro Jesus “Budoy” Madrona, who chairs the House committee on accounts, vowed to file the bill that Budget Sec. Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. submitted to the House of Representatives Monday.

Ungab said the House committee on Appropriations is eyeing the approval on Wednesday of the proposed measure.

“Hopefully we will be approving the measure this Wednesday at the committee level. I would presume nobody will oppose,” Ungab said.

In a statement, Abad said President Benigno Aquino III endorsed to Congress the bill which mandates a four-year Php226 billion compensation increase for the national government’s 1.53 million civilian and military and uniformed personnel.

She said “the compensation package is composed of a salary increase, a mid-year 14th month pay, and an enhanced performance-based bonus (PBB) system. The bill seeks to increase the basic salary of covered employees on the average by 27 percent, while the 14th month pay will further raise compensation by 8 percent. The enhanced PBB is equivalent to 1 to 2 months’ salary, or an average 10 percent increase in salary. Government personnel who play a greater role and carry a heavier responsibility in improving government performance, will receive a higher bonus.”

“At the end of the four tranches,” according to Abad, “government compensation, on a weighted average basis, is estimated to increase by 45 percent and should be around 84 percent of private sector pay. The lowest salary grade, Salary Grade 1, will be about 154 percent of the market, while the highest, Salary Grade 33, which is the President, will be about 70 percent of the market.”

Currently, government pay, on the average, is only 55 percent of market rates.

“The adjustment,” Abad added, “is mandated by the Joint Resolution 4 of Congress of 2009, which provided for a review of the compensation and position classification system after three years from the last year of the adjustment (which was June 1, 2012) to determine “the competitiveness of government pay in relation to the private sector” and “the compensation strategy to bring government pay closer to market rates”.

Accordingly, with the help of private sectorconsultants, Towers Watson, the DBM undertook and completed the study in July 2015.

“In structuring the compensation adjustment, we were guided by five parameters: (1) The minimum basic salary—Salary Grade 1—shall be raised from Php9,000 to Php11,068 a month; (2) To attract and retaincompetent and committed personnel, the new compensation level for all salary grades shall be at least 70% of the market; (3) To recognize differences in duties and responsibilities, there shall be no salary overlaps; (4) The link between pay and performance shall be strengthened, especially for those in the higher salary grades, and (5) The structure of the adjustment should temper the cost of benefits (i.e. GSIS premiums and PhilHealth contributions) and allow for higher take home pay, especially for those in the lower salary grades,” Abadclarified.

As a consequence of RA 10653, which raised the amount of benefits exempted from tax to Php82,000, for majority of civilian employees, those belonging to Salary Grades 1-11, and who are only receiving the existing tax-exempt 13th month pay, the cash gift and the productivity enhancement incentive (PEI), their full 14th month pay and full PBB will also be exempt from tax.

For those belonging to Salary Grades 12-16, who also are only receiving the existing tax-exempt 13th month pay, cash gift and PEI, only their full 14th month pay will be exempt from tax.

“The first tranche of the adjustment will take effect on January 1, 2016, and the subsequent three tranches on every January 1 thereafter until the final tranche in 2019,” Abad added.

Abad further clarified that “under the Constitution, no increase in the compensation of the President and the Vice-President shall take effect until after the expiration of the term of the incumbent during which such increase was approved. Similarly, no increase in compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the members of the Senate and the House of Representativesapproving such increase.”

For the regular members of the Cabinet, Abad said, “the compensation adjustment shall take effect only on July 1, 2016.” (PNA)


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