Thursday, December 28, 2006

Phase 1 of GCCA in the offing?

"PGMA to prioritize pay hike of government workers next year". This is the banner headline posted in the Philippine Government portal, The news feature further states that the President would "send the proposed measure to Congress as soon as the legislators return from their holiday furlough".

This is quite a bit confusing considering that a bill, H.B. 5918, has already been filed with the House of Representatives. I made a post on this last Dec. 14th. It seems Malacanang will deviate from the original version of the proposed pay hike which is the product of a study conducted by both the CSC and DBM, and will resort instead to a 10% across-the-board increase.

What prompted Malacanang to propose an alternative pay hike proposal? Time is of the essence. Congress will resume session about 2nd week of January and may last for probably only a month. Considering the many pending pieces of legislation on its calendar, among them, the 2007 national budget - there's not enough time to act on the proposed GCCA. So Malacanang is proposing an easier-to-pass version that is more acceptable to rank-and-file employees. Anyway, the proposed across-the-board increase can just be treated as initial implementation of the omnibus compensation package.

I'll keep everyone posted.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Old habits don't die!

It seems Congress is at it again: promising one thing and doing another. As early as November, the respective Chair of the Appropriations and Finance Committees of the House and Senate were exuding with confidence that the Php 1.126-T 2007 national budget will be passed before the christmas recess.

What the House and Senate have done so far was to pass the budget measure with their separate versions and toss it to the bicameral conference committee to reconcile the differences. But today, December 22nd is the last day of the session before the legislators adjourn for a month long christmas break and the budget has not gone past the bicameral conference committee. The latest deliberation of committee members turned out to be deadlock on certain expenditure items like the DepEd's Php4-B Food for School Program which the Senate wants realign to hiring of more teachers.

So the specter of operating on a re-enacted budget comes January 2007 is again looming, and while both Chairmen, Senator Drilon for the Senate and Cong. Salceda for the House, remain hopeful that the budget will be ratified when Congress resumes session in January 2007 - the scepticism that this year's experience of the government operating on a re-enacted for the whole year will again be repeated.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The GCCA: Seeking to address distortions and inequality in pay?

I have been receiving inquiries lately by e-mails, text messages and phone calls on the status of SSL 3. For the record, SSL 3 refers to the Proposed Government Compensation and Classification Act or GCCA. The proposed salary measure is with the House of Representative and denominated as House Bill No. 5918. It was introduced by Congressmen Joey Salceda and Francis Nepomuceno. Latest information about the GCCA can be obtained from the House website and that the House Appropriations Committee has formed a technical working composed of the committee members, CSC, DBM and COA to "study the merit of a key reform measure aimed at providing a new salary structure for government employees to narrow the disparity in salaries of civil service workers and those in the private sector".

The draft GCCA can be downloaded from the CSC website. But for the sake of those who have not gotten a copy or have not read the bill, here's a summary of my presentation during the December 5th Year-end Seminar of Local Budget Officers:

Omnibus Job Classification and Compensation system (OJCCS). This is the heart of the GCCA which shall jointly be formulated by the CSC and DBM. The OJCCS shall:

- promote internal equity among government employees, taking into consideration the principle of "equal pay for work of equal value"; and that differences in pay are subject to compensable factors;

- give due regard to external equity by considering prevailing market rates for work in medium sized private enterprises; pay rates are modest in keeping with fiscal realities;

- use performance as basis for merit increases, promotions, and incentives;

- easy to administer and responsive to current challenges; simple denomination of jobs; and subject to periodic review.

This is going to be on installment basis, so please bear with me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

LBOs' Year-end Seminar was a success!

I congratulate the Iloilo MBOs Association for successfully hosting this year's year end seminar. Thus far, it is the biggest in term of participants - about 210, some coming from the accounting and treasury groups.

On the technical side, the participants were able to take a second look on how to prepare the local budget matrix, cash program, and performance evaluation. They also had the opportunity to resolve with COA certain issues related to their role in obligation and disbursements. It was unfortunate that Secretary Andaya was not able to come. He was supposed to join the President for a cabinet meeeting and consultation here in Iloilo City. But the Secretary's no-show did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants. I had to pitch in to give them a glimpse of what the proposed Government Compensation and Classification System is all about.

The presentation of each provincial association during the fellowship night was a revelation and a show-off of hidden talents. But the Iloilo MBOs' version of Kris Aquino's "Deal or No Deal" hosted by Ramie Madero of Pavia stole the whole show. Everybody had a hearty laugh.

Budgeting: A Tool for Reforms

Last Saturday (Dec. 2nd), I had the rare opportunity to speak before the class on the masteral program of the Ateneo School of Government. The students all 24 of them are officials and employees of Iloilo City, three of whom are Sangguniang Panlungsod members - Kagawads Jed Mabilog, Ely Estante and Armand Parcon.

The class was mainly handled by my former Boss, retired Usec. Cynthia Castel. My topic was about "Budgeting as Tool for Reforms". I began my presentation with brief and practical descriptions of what budgeting is. That it is a document containing words and figures with price tags attached; a prediction linking financial resources and human behavior. Usually, there is a tendency on the part of department heads to "satisfice" (to borrow the term popularized by Aaron Wildavsky), meaning "satisfy and suffice" that is, if they can't get all the funding that they want, they must as well get all that they can.

Budgeting is also contract between the local chief executive, sanggunian and local finance committee on one hand; and the department heads on the other. The former promise to produce the money to finance the planned expenditures under specified conditions, and the latter commit to implement the programs and projects or deliver the services to the public. I also underscored the reality that budgeting is at the heart of the political process, and that it records the struggle between the executive branch and local legislature over control of funds, over whose preferences will prevail. While this seems to be a democratic form of check and balance as enunciated in the Local Government Code, its effect if no agreement is reached between both branches of government, is detrimental undermining socio-economic development at the local level. Of course this situation does not only happen in LGUs. We have, in the past several years, witnessed this impasse between the Executive branch and Congress, eventually leading to a re-enacted budget, underspending and under delivery of basic services.

The challenge that I posed to the students is how they would reconcile the kind of budgeting that we are pushing (basically, performance budgeting) with political budgeting. The extent to which performance based budgeting will succeed in LGUs would depend on whether or not politicians care about outcomes and outputs. More of my lecture will be posted next time.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

December 4-6 is ALBO 6 Year-end Seminar

Tomorrow (December 4th) is the start of a 3-day year-end seminar of the Association of Local Budget Officers in Region VI. Venue is at the newly refurbished Coral Ballroom of Punta Villa Resort, Iloilo City.

Day 1 of this culminating seminar will be devoted to the refresher on the new allotment system to be implemented starting January, 2007. A coaching-workshop on the preparation of the local budget matrix and allotment release order will be conducted by the DBM RO 6 staff. A follow through session on the preparation of cash program and cash flow analysis will also be part of the technical session.

On the 2nd day, a review of the mechanics of the performance evaluation system to be undertaken by the local finance committee of each LGU; and the updates on COA rules are the two main topics. In the afternoon, we are expecting that Secretary Andaya will join the LBOs right after the cabinet meeting here in the city - for a dialogue and update on the proposed Government Compensation and Classification Act (GCCA) as well as the Internal Revenue Allotment. In the evening, the LBOs will hold their traditional fellowship night and christmas party. Each provincial association is expected to render a christmas number, and the LBO retirees for the year will be honored.

Activities for the 3rd day will be abbreviated as most participants, as usual, is in a hurry to go home. But the year-end affair will not be complete without the association meeting in a general assembly to discuss their concerns and plan out for the year ahead.

IMBOA, the host association promises that this 3-day seminar will be more memorable and fulfilling than the previous ones.