Windfall

Prov’l workers to get P30,000 ‘aid’ in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–Employees of the provincial government are set to get an additional windfall this Christmas season after the provincial board here on Wednesday approved the grant of at least P30,000 as “cash assistance” to each official and employee, including selected officials of national agencies.

In its regular session Wednesday, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the release of P31 million that would be used to fund “global economic relief assistance” for each of the 1,000 government officials and rank-and-file workers in the province.

In granting the “assistance” to provincial workers, the board cited the current global financial crisis that had purportedly hit major economies in the world.

“Despite these economic challenges, officials and personnel of the provincial government have discharged their duties with dispatch and provided quality services to their constituents,” the ordinance read in part.

Under the measure, a total of 680 officials and regular employees, and 252 casuals are set to receive P30,000 each, while contractual workers will get P10,000 each.

A total of 72 officials from national agencies will also get P10,000 each, which include regional trial court judges, prosecutors, chiefs of the National Bureau of Investigation, Register of Deeds, lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office the Commission on Audit and other offices “directly functioning in the delivery of basic services in partnership with the provincial government.”

Board members were quick to clarify that the ordinance specifies that the amount was an “aid” and not a benefit, bonus or incentive, as defined under the Tax Reform Act of 1997.

“If this is the case, then this should be tax-exempt,” said Board Member Edgardo Balgos.

The approval of the grant, was however, marred by the absence of all the members of the minority, who have expressed reservation on the financial data used by the majority members in proposing the P30,000 grant.

“We just hope that the P44 million savings that the (province’s) local finance committee recorded as the available resource for this P31 million is true and accurate,” said Board Member Patricio Dumlao Jr.

The news of the SP’s approval of the fund release, however, was met with varying reactions from residents here, some of whom expressing dismay that lavish spending in government has become commonplace.

Parang nakakalito kasi sabi nila, economic crisis pero sila naman, walang preno kung maglustay ng pera ng taong-bayan (It is confusing because while the SP talks about economic crisis, they are not exercising prudence in in spending public money),” said Arthur Costales, 32, a tricycle driver here.

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