At least 600 contractual employees of the Bureau of Immigration are likely to be retrenched should the House appropriations committee continue to push for the insertion of a provision in the proposed 2016 national budget that would transmit the express-lane fees collected from foreigners at the airports to the National Treasury.
Immigration Commissioner Siegfred Mison said that under the present system, the BI’s express lane fees, which are deposited in the Special Trust Fund, represent the only source of money to pay for the salaries of confidential agents and overtime services of all BI personnel.
“If the express-lane fees were included in the proposed national budget, over 600 workforce would be without jobs next year,” Mison said.
The House appropriations committee insisted that BI express-lane fees be deposited in the National Treasury as income of the General Fund. It was included in the proposed 2016 National Expenditure Program.
Mison feared that almost 30 percent of the BI workforce will be instantly removed or separated upon the effectivity of the 2016 GAA (General Appropriations Act) or on Jan. 1, 2016.
Mison said that the bureau should have at least 4,000 employees nationwide to carry out its mandated duties. “At present, we have only 1,437 regular employees while there are 461 contractual workers.”
“We are appealing to congress to delete the proposed insertion, and if this happens, the bureau cannot do its duties,” he said.
The BI chief said that the express-lane fees which collect almost P1.1 billion a year is the only source to pay the salaries of all contractual employees, overtime pay and other immigration matters such as intelligence work.
The entire BI personnel reject the proposed plan to turn over the bureau’s express-lane fee collections to the National Treasury unless congress increased its budget from the measly P680 million to P3 billion.