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House OKs government rightsizing bill on final reading

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the National Government Rightsizing bill aimed at trimming the bureaucracy in order to be more responsive to the people's needs.

House Bill 7240, which got 292 yes votes and three negative votes, covers government agencies under the executive department, except for the following:

  • teachers and those in medical-related posts in government agencies under the executive department, including hospitals and medical facilities;
  • military and uniformed personnel, and
  • positions in the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions which are already under the jurisdiction of the Governance Commission for GOCCs.

Rightsizing, however, is optional for the legislature, judiciary, constitutional commissions, Office of the Ombudsman, and other local government units.

Further, the bill creates a Committee on Rightsizing the Executive Branch, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the program.

The bill also provides the grant of retirement benefits and separation incentives for personnel who may be affected by the rightsizing program, as well as a three-year timeline for implementation.

A number of labor groups, however, are opposed to the measure, saying this would lead to loss of jobs among rank and file employees.

Among them were the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), the Public Sector Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), the Confederation of Independent Union in the Public Sector (CIU-SENTRO), and other NAGKAISA Labor Coalition affiliates.

“We voice anew our opposition to the Rightsizing Bill (House Bill No. 7240), which could result in further streamlining of the rank and file and much needed workforce in the public sector, while maintaining top government positions that are hardly needed, and are responsible for eating up the bulk of the country’s budget for basic services,” FFW president Sonny Matula said in an earlier statement.

The government rightsizing bill is among the priority measures being pushed by the Marcos administration.

In his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said the rightsizing measure will enhance the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.

"Compared to previous government reorganization efforts, the NGRP (National Government Rightsizing Program ) will entail a comprehensive strategic review of the functions, operations, organization, systems and processes of the different agencies, and massive and transformational initiatives in agencies concerned, such as merger, consolidation, splitting, transfer, and abolition of some offices," Marcos said.

In a separate statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) thanked the House of Representatives “for the swift passage of House Bill No. 7240, or ‘An Act Rightsizing the National Government to Improve Public Service Delivery, and Appropriating Funds Thereof’.”

“Indeed, this is a timely and relevant measure that will further help realize President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s vision of a lean, efficient, and responsive government workforce,” the DBM said.

The Budget Department said the NGRP will streamline national government agencies through regularization, merging, restructuring, abolition, or transfer of government agencies to create a more efficient bureaucracy, enabling the government to save a significant amount of budget.

Saved budget may be used to fund priority projects such as much-needed infrastructure, social services, programs in the health sector, agriculture, among others, according to the DBM.

The agency said rightsizing will also upgrade the government’s institutional capacity to perform its mandate and provide better services while ensuring optimal and efficient use of resources.

“As the proposed bill now moves to the Senate for deliberation, rest assured that the DBM will continue to closely work and cooperate with Congress leading to the bill's passage into law. It is also important to note that the measure will involve public discussions and consultations,” the DBM said.

“We are one step closer to making the bill a reality, with the strong support of our hardworking legislators, who share the Chief Executive’s vision of a well-functioning government that ensures quick and responsive delivery of public services,” it said.—AOL, GMA Integrated News