Monday, October 26, 2009

P 12 B Calamity Fund: The tale of two versions.

When Congress resumes session on November 9th, the Bicameral Conference Committee will try to reconcile the House and the Senate versions of Joint Resolution No. 48, setting aside P12 B to augment the already depleted Calamity Fund of the national government.

House version. The P 12 B will be sourced from the Unprogrammed Fund. Said Fund is among the Special Purpose Funds in the yearly GAA. DBM releases the money once the Bureau of Treasury certifies that the revenue back up has been collected. With the collection of our main collecting agencies, the BIR and BoC on a downtrend, that money is illusory. Thus, the House authorized the President to resort to borrowings. This means too that the money is not readily available because the government will have to look for investors for its blond flotation or schedule a series of treasury bill auctions.

Senate version. On the other hand, the Senate identifies the government's share from the Malampaya natural gas project as the funding source for the calamity fund augmentation. It is not clear though if the money is already available that is, the government share from the natural gas extraction has already been sold and the proceeds deposited in the National Treasury.

Time is of the essence considering that more relief operations are needed and massive rehabilitation efforts have yet to be started in areas affected by the typhoons "Ondoy", "Pepeng" and the previous typhoon "Frank".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Waived items in the 2010 NEP.

When Joint Resolution No. 4 (JR 4) was signed and the corresponding SSL 3 1st tranche guidelines (Executive Order No. 811) was issued by the President, the apprehension of many LGUs that they cannot implement the first tranche became a reality.

Position papers were prepared and submitted to Congress appealing to our legislators to amend Section 7 of JR No. 4 which provides that the determination by the local sanggunian of the salaries and wages of local government personnel shall be subject to the PS limitation prescribed under Section 325(a)of RA 7160. One such position paper was prepared by the Iloilo MBOs Association (IMBOA) which was adopted by the Iloilo League of Municipalities, and later on by the LMP Visayas. Nothing's been heard about Congress' response to the position paper.

What's closer to reality? It seems Congress is not keen on amending that disputed section of JR 4. We suggested that another tack may be employed by LGUs - which is to lobby to their respective Congressmen for the retention of Section 88, General Provisions of the 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA). The said section enumerates the PS items that can be waived from the 45%-55% PS limitation, among them, the continued implementation of SSL.

The 2010 Budget submitted by the President is being deliberated upon by both Houses of Congress. As gleaned from the said budget (2010 National Expenditure Program), particularly, the last paragraph of Section 87 of the General Provisions - only three (3) PS costs are proposed to be waived from the PS limitation, namely:

- PS costs of mandatory positions specified in RA 7160;
- PS of NG personnel devolved to LGUs, and
- PS of hospital services transferred to new cities from the provinces

The other PS costs which used to be part of the waived items were deleted. These include: continued implementation of SSL; terminal leave; monetization of leave credits; magna carta benefits of PHWs; and honoraria and cash gift of barangay officials.

I am positive it's never too late to mount a concerted effort of lobbying with our legislators. Every LGU from Aparri to Jolo should contribute to the effort. Otherwise, LGU personnel, especially those employed in lower class LGUs will be left out in the cold.

Implementing the 1st Tranche of SSL 3 for LGUs.

I was supposed to post this story right after the issuance of the circular but the series of trainings on the roll-out of the revised IRR of the GPRA starting the third week of September, and the Executive Forum on the implementation of Internal Audit System for EC pilot provinces - have kept me pretty occupied.

Better late then never. Local Budget Circular No. 2009-92 has already been issued to implement the first tranche of SSL 3 for LGUs starting January 1, 2010. LGUs have been waiting for this and the timing of its issuance coincided with the finalization of local annual budgets. By this time, LGUs may already have decided whether or not to include in their annual budgets the funds to implement the first tranche.

This will now dispel any speculation that the much-awaited circular will ease the restrictions imposed by the mother SSL 3 issuance, JR No. 4. Not quite. LBC 2009-92 cannot amend the basic issuance. And so, the restrictions stay. LGUs can implement the first tranche if (a) they have not exceeded the PS limitation prescribed under Section 325(a) of RA 7160; (b) the implementation is confined to the modified salary schedule corresponding to their economic classification; and (c) subject to availability of funds.

LBC 2009-92, aside from prescribing a separate modified salary schedules for each class of LGUs (Annexes "A1" to "A8")- also spelled out the guidelines on the implementation of reallocated classes positions like Nurses, teachers, medical officers.