Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman is hopeful that lawmakers will approve of the PHP70-billion allocation for the salary increase of state workers in the proposed 2025 national budget.

In a press conference at the sidelines of the inauguration of Department of Budget and Management-Cordillera Administrative Region (DBM-CAR) office in Baguio City on Thursday, Pangandaman said there is no assurance that the amount will be approved but noted that the proposed salary increase is based on a study conducted by their office.

“We need to wait for Congress’ decision whether to approve the item on the increase in salaries of the employees,” she said.

The last time salaries of government workers were hiked is in 2023, the fourth and last tranche of the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, which started in 2020.

During a Cabinet meeting in Malacanang last July 2, Pangandaman presented to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. the proposed PHP6.352 trillion proposed budget for next year, which is targeted to be submitted to Congress on July 29, 2024, a week after the Chief Executive’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The DBM chief said the proposed national budget for next year is 10 percent higher than this year’s PHP5.768 trillion.

“We proposed the budget. They have the power of the purse and they can cut down the amount but cannot increase it,” she said.

Also included in the proposed national budget for next year is the PHP670 billion to PHP800 billion for debt servicing, she said.

“During the pandemic, the government continued to spend for social services and other public services even if there was no collection or revenues. The funds the government used came from loans and they are falling due so we need to have an allocation for the payment of the loans,” she said.

She said DBM received from the various departments budget proposals amounting to PHP9.2 trillion but this has to be revised since the limit is only PHP6 trillion.

“It is now in the hands of the Secretaries of the different departments to defend their budget to the Congress during the hearings,” she said.