‘We don’t have time’

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Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno.

With no signal from the House leadership up to yesterday on how long it will throw roadblocks to the 2019 budget, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno launched a stinging attack on legislators who he said should be approving important legislations instead of blocking them.

Essential projects are being held up by the delays in the approval of the GAB

Diokno said House leaders were merely “wasting time” in blocking the approval of the 2019 budget bill.

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (PTV Photo)

has raised alleged corruption issues against Diokno that were apparently triggered by his outright refusal of the demand of House members to be allotted portions of the Road Board funds collected from the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge worth an estimated total of P45 billion.

Andaya said the House will review the entire budget bill, citing supposed insertions that Diokno had initiated.

Diokno, at a forum, said essential projects are being held up by the delays in the approval of the General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

Another issue raised
Andaya had raised a new issue, which is the full implementation of the last tranche of salary increases for government workers, but which Diokno said can’t be implemented unless a new budget law is approved.

Andaya threatened to petition the Supreme Court to compel Diokno to release the funds for the increase.

“Since we are operating under the 2018 reenacted budget, then there’s no legal basis for us to pay,” Diokno said.

The government is now operating under a recycled budget from 2018 after both Houses failed to finish the scrutiny of the P3.757-trillion 2019 budget before the Christmas break last year.

“Why are we wasting time? We don’t have enough time,” Diokno told reporters.

“The session days of Congress is very limited. So, why don’t they just use their time approving, for example, a very important bill like the freedom of information bill, which has been languishing for so long?” he added.

New budget needed
The Budget chief assured the salary adjustment will be implemented as soon as the 2019 budget is passed.

He cited Executive Order (EO) 201 as governing the grant of compensation adjustments.
According to Section 11 of the said EO, the implementation of the salary schedule is “subject to appropriations by Congress.”

Accordingly, Section 15 of the same EO, in identifying the funding source for the salary adjustments, provides that “the DBM (…) shall be (…) authorized to implement or adjust the compensation corresponding to the appropriations provided in the GAA (General Appropriations Act).”

Pending the passage of the GAB, government employees will continue to receive salaries indexed to the third tranche of the compensation adjustment.

The implementation of the fourth tranche of compensation adjustments will be applied retroactively from 1 January 2019 once the 2019 GAA is signed into law. In effect, government employees will receive salary differentials within the year.

Only CO, MOOE extended
Diokno added that Congress Joint Resolution 3 only extended the validity of 2018 appropriations for Capital Outlays (CO) and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and does not cover Personnel Services contradicting Andaya’s claim that the extension will allow possible funding sources for the compensation adjustment from remaining appropriations in the 2018 budget.

He said the salary hike for military and uniformed personnel (MUP) was implemented without a funding source in the 2018 GAA.

Adjustments in the base pay schedule of MUP were provided for through a budget set aside in the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund under Personnel Services in the 2018 GAA.

Salary raise assured
Public school teachers and non-teaching employees will have to wait a little more, but they will surely receive the fourth tranche of the salary increase, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.

Since we are operating under the 2018 reenacted budget, then there’s no legal basis for us to pay.

Education Undersecretary for Finance Anne Sevilla said the adjustment will be given to teachers and regular non-teaching staff as soon as the 2019 budget is passed.

“We have to wait for the 2019 budget,” Sevilla told reporters at a press briefing at the DepEd central office in Pasig City, adding the fourth tranche salary adjustment is not included in the 2018 budget.

“Hopefully, by end of March, we already have the GAA for 2019,” Sevilla added.

She said 2019 is the last year of the tranches of the salary increase, which was approved during the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

NOYNOY AQUINO.

“Just because this is the last (tranche), so this is not included in the 2018 budget. We have to wait for the approval of the 2019 budget. All regular government employees are qualified for the fourth tranche. However, this will not be released immediately because we have to wait for the approval of 2019 budget,” Sevilla said.

“We will see until March. If the 2019 GAA is not approved, the DBM will issue new instructions on how we will treat the necessary allowances and bonuses for our employees, especially the teachers,” the DepEd official added.

with Joshua Lao, Neil Alcober

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