No funds for newly hired teachers without 2019 budget – DepEd
MANILA, Philippines – With the 2019 national budget still stalled in Congress, the Department of Education (DepEd) warned it will have difficulty sourcing funds to pay around 80,000 teachers needed to be hired for the coming school year.
Education Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla raised the concern on Monday, March 18, pointing out that the 2018 budget does not include funds for personnel newly hired in 2019.
"There’s no funding allocation for these newly hired teachers because we are only given a funding allocation for the 2018 level, so you can imagine...our budget does not include our newcomers," Sevilla said in a press conference.
The government is on its third month operating on a reenacted budget after Congress failed to pass the 2019 spending bill by December 31, 2018. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte met with lawmakers in a bid to end the budget impasse, but the talks led nowhere.
For agencies like the DepEd, temporary solutions had to be created.
Sevilla said this means prioritizing funds for urgent needs like paying teachers. She added that they have utilized savings from teachers who resigned or did not attend work to instead pay for salaries of current teachers.
"This is just temporary. If this will happen for the entire year, then there is really a big problem for DepEd because we are also hiring new ones (teachers).... That is why it is very important for us to have the 2019 General Appropriations Act because...[it] is higher in funding allocation and we will not need to make internal arrangements anymore," she said.
Sevilla said that if the 2018 budget will be reenacted for the whole year, funds for new teachers can still be allocated, though the budget department will need to say where it would be sourced from.
Stretching resources: If the 2019 budget is not passed soon, the DepEd will also face the problem of sourcing funds not just for newly hired teachers, but for programs and other payments.
"The problem is by April. If this will continue, many of the payments we set aside will be due and we cannot anymore adjust," Sevilla said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She added that the productivity enhancement benefits and midyear bonuses of some 300,000 employees will also need to be released by April.
Aside from these, teachers will also need to get their P3,500 cash allowance to purchase supplies needed for the coming school year.
Under the reenacted budget, agencies are allowed to spend only 25% of their 2018 budget from January to March 2019. If the 2019 budget remains in limbo or new guidelines for operating under the reenacted budget are not issued on time, Sevilla said the DepEd will not have enough funds for all these expenses come April.
Meanwhile, government employees, including the DepEd's 800,000 employees, are also scheduled to receive the 4th and final tranche of their salary hike under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL). The SSL has been held hostage because of the budget impasse.
The Department of Budget and Management recommended the amendment of the executive order on the salary increase to the Office of the President so that the hike can be implemented. – Rappler.com