Budget chief: No mass layoffs, only mass hiring in gov't this year
Manila (13 February) -- Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya on Friday denied reports that there will be mass layoffs in government and even said the state machinery will be absorbing more employees this year.
"While the economic crunch had resulted in mass layoffs in the private sector, it is not true in the public sphere. In fact, there is a mass hiring in government. Funds for this purpose have already been earmarked in the 2009 national budget," Andaya said.
Andaya made the statement in reaction to concerns aired by Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), a progressive public sector union in the Philippines, that the rationalization plan of the government would displace a significant number of government workers.
The secretary said as a matter of fact, the budget of the Department of Education alone allows for the hiring of 10,000 teachers this year and another 2,000 members of non-teaching personnel of the line department.
"This will bring the number of teaching personnel of the DepEd to 506,000," Andaya said.
Additionally, Andaya said funds have been earmarked for the hiring of 500 jailguards for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology as well as the Bureau of Corrections.
Also, around 3,000 policemen will be hired this year to bolster the manpower of the Philippine National Police under the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Andaya said that under the recently-announced Nurses Assigned in Rural Areas (NARS) program, another 5,000 nurses will be employed to serve in the barrios and far-flung municipalities.
He also said that around P2 billion in the 2009 budget have been allocated for the government's reforestation program, which authorizes the hiring of another 40,000 green-collar workers for the purpose and other energy-independent projects.
"The funds have already been set aside for these purposes," the budget chief explained.
On top of these, Andaya said that state colleges and universities are authorized to hire additional academic personnel under their respective charters.
"All of these are aimed at cushioning the effect of the global economic crunch on the private sector, which had no choice but to cut down the number of employees due to the financial slowdown," he said.
Andaya said that these government vacancies have already been allocated funds for the purpose of hiring personnel, and these are in addition to the plans of Malacanang to order government agencies to set aside 1.5 percent of their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOEs); estimated at P7 billion, to hire 180,000 casual employees for six months.
He said that as it is, the government pays P427 billion a year, or roughly P1.17 billion a day for salaries, pensions and premium payments for government workers.
The Budget chief made this disclosure as government employees led by members of COURAGE protested the planned rationalization program of the state, saying this will lead to mass layoffs of employees.
Andaya clarified that the plan to abolish redundant positions in government had been advanced not only because of the cost of maintaining such, but to improve service delivery by cutting red tape through systems and organizational changes.
"But I will say this, those affected by the rationalization fund do not include professionals such as policemen, teachers, doctors, nurses, midwives and firemen," he said.
The secretary said the implementation of the plan will be democratic, consultative and non-coercive, all part of creating a "smarter government."
"This is our way of repaying the taxpayers with better, efficient government service," Andaya explained.
He bared that in the consultations for the implementation of the plan, the accredited employees union of the agency will be represented on order to promote efficiency.
Andaya reiterated that the ones affected by the rationalization plan will not be removed, but are given three choices. They can be retained in their mother agencies if their skills are still needed and there are positions where they can be accommodated. The second option Is to be redeployed to other agencies without reduction in salary. The third is opt for retirement or early separation with incentives.
He enumerated the incentives as follows:
- Half of the basic monthly salary as of June 30, 2007 for every year of service, for those who have rendered less than 21 years of service
- Three-fourths of the monthly salary as of June 30, 2007 for every year of service, computed starting from the 1st year, for those who have rendered 21 to less than 31 years of service
- A month for every year of service, computed starting from the 1st year, for those who have rendered 31 years of service and above.
"The incentive is in addition to what they will get from the Government Service Insurance System," he said. (PIA) [top]