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House cool to Sotto bill on 14th month pay

At least two congressmen on Saturday said Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s bill granting 14th month pay to employees in the private sector may have a hard time passing in Congress.

Reps. Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City and Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar said Sotto’s Senate Bill 2 would meet a cold shoulder from congressmen.

Tambunting said legislated wage increases or mandatory benefits and bonuses need to be studied carefully.

“There is a need to balance the interests of workers and employers, as well as the broader economy. We need to remember that the Philippines is primarily a ‘service economy,’” said Tambunting, chairman of the House committee on games and amusements.

Evardone said a lot of factors need to be considered to enable private sector employers to give their rank and file employees the 14th month pay every year.

Other employees, such as those in government, should also get a fair share of pay increases, added the Eastern Samar solon.

“I will support it provided it covers all employees,” said Evardone, chairman of the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries,

Malacañang earlier said the President would still need to consult with his economic managers to study whether or not to support Sotto’s bill.

SB 2 proposes that 13th-month pay shall be given to employees in the private sector not later than June 14, while the 14th-month pay shall be given before Dec. 24 of every year.

State workers are already entitled to a 14th-month pay through a 2017 Budget Circular.

Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte urged national government agencies to get their act together in implementing infrastructure projects in support of President Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, lamented the low absorptive capacity of certain national government agencies in implementing projects, as conceded by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, has affected the allocation for infrastructure projects at the local government level.

Under the new cash-based budgeting system, Malacañang submitted a proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019, which is slightly lower than this year’s P3.767 trillion.

At a recent budget hearing of the House committee on appropriations, chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, Diokno said Malacañang’s proposed 2019 cash-based national budget is slightly lower than the previous year’s because it is based on each agency’s absorptive capacity and the readiness of the projects and programs for implementation.

Under the proposed cash-based national budget, all payouts are valid within the fiscal year and three months the following year, or only until March 2020.

Villafuerte, also vice chairman of the House committee on local government, proposed at the House hearing that to improve absorptive capacity, particularly of the Department of Public Works and Highways, that the implementation of many local road projects be done by the DPWH.

“My humble suggestion is if these funds are allotted to local roads, the absorptive capacity [will improve], the money not spent, will [then] be spent,” Villafuerte told Diokno during a recent briefing held by Cabinet members belonging to the Development Budget Coordination Committee.

Topics: Senate President Vicente Sotto III , Gus Tambunting , Ben Evardone , “Build , Build , Build” program
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