‘Don’t base gov’t pay on private sector salary’, says group
Research group IBON today said that the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015 may give some relief to long underpaid government workers, but the increases for the highest ranking government officials are excessive and undemocratic.
Basing government officials’ salaries on private sector pay distorts the principle of public service and will only reinforce the already overly elite-oriented character of the government, the group said.
The proposed SSL of 2015 increases the basic pay of all 33 salary grades (SG) in government but does this in a very inequitable way. The three highest salary grades covering the president, vice president, cabinet secretaries, senators, congressmen and justices will see increases of 186-223% in their basic pay or by Php167,809 (SG31) to Php268,096 (SG33). This is a tripling or more of their current basic pay to Php3.4-5.1 million annually.
In contrast, the basic pay of the lowest 13 salary grades only increases by 12-23% or just Php2,068 (SG1) to Php3,796 (SG13). This is only a marginal increase in basic pay ranging from Php11,068 (SG1) to Php25,232 (SG13). The largest part of government employees are found in the lowest salary grades with perhaps up 800,000-one million at SG15 or lower. As it is, those in the lowest six or seven salary grades may still be taking home less than the decent living wage of Php16,000 per month.
The basic pay does not yet include the midyear 14th month bonus, enhanced performance-based budgeting (PBB) and any allowances. While this will slightly increase the final salaries received, the basic gross inequity in the salary increases remains.
The inequity in government pay is getting worse, said the group. The last round of salary increases also saw the highest ranking officials seeing much higher increases of 70-140% compared to just 40-45% in the lower salary grades.
Civil servants, like all workers and citizens, deserve decent pay and living wages for themselves and their families. However the argument that more “competitive” salaries are needed for high ranking officials is based on a wrong notion of public service. The high executive pay of private profit-seeking corporations comes from underpaid and increasingly contractualized workers and from charging the highest prices possible for goods and services.
Making these bloated private sector salaries the benchmark for those in public service and of the highest public officials diminishes their ability to lead the government and the citizenry by example. Excessive salaries will also reinforce and institutionalize the already yawning gap between their lifestyles and the conditions of the mass of poor Filipinos, IBON said. (end)