BACOLOD CITY – The Negros Occidental provincial government will start implementing the first tranche of the pay increase under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 5 for its more than 3,000 employees next year.
Renelo Lastierre, president of Progressive Alliance of Capitol Employees (PACE), said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that they welcome the development since higher salary rates will have a positive “domino effect” on the lives of the employees.
“We are grateful to the provincial government headed by Governor Eugenio Jose ‘Bong’ Lacson. The workers and their families will surely benefit from the increase in their salaries,” he said.
The provincial government was unable to implement the SSL 5 this year due to an unresolved notice of disallowance issued by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
For five years since 2015, Negros Occidental has exceeded the Personal Services (PS) cap of 45 percent of the total annual income from regular sources realized in the next preceding fiscal year.
Lastierre said the PACE had earlier sent a letter to Lacson through then Provincial Budget Officer Jose Percival Salado requesting for the implementation of the SSL 5.
When they followed up the request with Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II, they were told that the notice of disallowance prevents the provincial government from acting on it.
Then during the recent hearing for the 2021 annual provincial budget, Lastierre said he was informed that the issue on the notice of disallowance for the PS limitation has already been resolved.
Lastierre acknowledged the efforts of Diaz and OIC Provincial Budget Officer Gemma Rose Flores in finding ways to “cure the defect” that will allow the provincial government to grant the employees’ salary increase next year.
In 2018, the province’s annual budget submitted to the DBM-Western Visayas for review was declared inoperative in part. The agency disallowed the amount of PHP504.457 million as it represents the excess of the PS limitation.
In 2015 alone, the provincial government exceeded its PS cap by PHP106 million then by PHP199 million in 2016; PHP298 million in 2017; and PHP504 million in 2018. The last PS allocation exceeded the limit by more than PHP600 million. (PNA)