Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SSL 3 Okayed by PGMA, Finally!

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed the SSL 3 Joint Resolution yesterday before departing for Japan. Finally, government employees will be receiving their long-awaited salary increases starting next month (read more here). The last salary adjustment for government personnel was in 1994.

The ridiculously low salary levels in government is undeniably one of the main reasons why graft and corruption is rampant today. Also, the poor pay in government also affects the quality of service that our people get from our civil servants.

Filipinos have to accept the idea that if they want a clean and efficient government, they have to pay government employees the right salaries. Singapore has one of the most efficient government in Asia because its government employees has one of the highest salary rates in Asia. During the pre-war period under the Americans, the Philippines enjoyed a relatively graft-free government. But this was because civil servants then were paid handsomely for their work: a middle-ranking bureacrat then earned what today is equivalent to P3 million a year and a high-ranking official then (say, a senator or a judge) received P10 million annual salary. Even low-ranking employees like chauffeurs and janitors then received an average salary of P35,000 a month.

Filipinos also have to accept the fact that we have to pay government people what is commensurate to their skills and responsibilities of their office. Right now, a call center employee earns more than say, a state prosecutor or a lieutenant colonel in-charge of a battalion in the Armed Forces. If the call center employee commits an error, chances are it will only result in an unhappy customer. But if the prosecutor messes up a case or the military officer bungles a mission, lives will be adversely affected or even lost. It saddens me to see all our young bright minds flocking to work as telephone operators while their talents can be put to better use and their lives devoted to a higher purpose in government service. But with the low pay, it's very hard to attract the best people to join government nowadays.

I believe that salaries in government should at least be at par or even higher than the private sector. This is really the only solution to lessen the graft and corruption which has plagued our country since time immemorial.

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