MANILA –- The House of Representatives on Wednesday needs only one session day to pass the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) for government workers.

It started in the House committee on Appropriations as they spent only three hours to approve the measure and immediately elevate the bill to plenary.

The panel senior vice chairman and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. sponsored the measure and was interpellated by ACT Teacher Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio and ABAKADA Party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz.

Using viva voce voting, the affirmative prevailed and Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Carlos Padilla Jr. bang his gavel signalling the approval for second reading.

At the hearing, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, panel chair, said that committee members overwhelmingly agreed in favor of the proposal through viva voce vote.

“Hindi na-record (yung voting) because overwhelming naman kung baga viva voce ba, mas malakas yung majority vote,” said Ungab.

Only Tinio voted against the approval of the measure.

Earlier during the discussions, Tinio argued that the increase in salaries of Teacher 1, Nurse 1 will only rise by 11.89 percent under SSL 2015 but Budget Secretary Florencio Abad dismissed the lawmaker’s claim.

Abad said that the take-home pay of Teacher 1, Nurse 1 could be as high as 30 percent including performance-based bonus (PBB), 14th month pay.

Ungab said that it was possible that lawmakers immediately take up the measure in the plenary for approval in both the second and final reading, depending on the availability of the quorum.

“I believe the plenary votes would reflect almost the same dito sa committee,” Ungab explained.

On Monday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte assured the 1.53-million state employees that they would approved the proposed SSL so that it could be immediately be implemented on the first part of 2016.

Under House Bill 6268, 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.

The measure said that 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 eight percent.

The enhanced PBB is equivalent to 1 to 2 months’ salary, or an average 10% increase in salary. Government personnel who play a greater role and carry a heavier responsibility in improving government performance, will receive a higher bonus.”

Abad earlier stated that at the end of the four tranches, government compensation, on a weighted average basis, was estimated to increase by 45 percent and should be around 84 percent of private sector pay.

He said that lowest salary grade, Salary Grade 1 would be about 154 percent of the market,” while the highest, Salary Grade 33, which is the President, will be about 70% of the market.”

Under the structuring of the compensation adjustment, it is 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 retain competent and committed personnel, the new compensation level for all salary grades shall be at least 70 percent 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.

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

Meanwhile, Abad 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.”

He added that 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 Representatives approving such increase.

For the regular members, “the compensation adjustment shall take effect only on July 1, 2016.” Sammy F. Martin/PNA