Amid increase in pension,
Lawmakers slam SSS contribution hike
■ H. C. E. Marin
After the approval of an increase in pension, Makabayan bloc lawmakers urged the Social Security System (SSS) to institute reforms which improve the collection of revenue and reduce huge salaries and bonuses for its executive, instead of increasing the contribution rates of its members.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved on January 10 a P1,000 increase in the monthly pension of SSS members this year and another P1,000 increase in 2022. The pension comes with an increase in contribution rate to 12.5 percent from 11 percent and in monthly credit to P20,000 from P16,000 to ensure sustainability, according to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.
While they welcome the pension hike, the legality of the 1.5-percent increase in contribution should be addressed by investigating if the fine print of the resolution violated the Social Security Act of 1997, according to lawmakers from Makabayan. Under Section 4 of the law, any increase in benefits shall not require any increase in the rate of contribution.
To compensate for the hike, contributions collected should instead be maximized as only half of the 34 million members pay, said Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate in a statement.
SSS should also learn from the P4.845 billion worth of contribution delinquencies and employer penalties in Metro Manila and P71 million worth of illegal bonuses it recorded in 2015, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao added.
“The potential and significant losses are due to how the institution is managed, but the burden is being passed on its members, hence, we urge the people to be vigilant and intensify mass actions pressing reforms beneficial to SSS members,” Casilao said in a statement.
Teresita Estiva, 71, gets P3,000 monthly pension in SSS and started receiving it when her husband died 11 years ago. Of the P3,000, she only takes home P1,500 as the other half is used to pay for the loan they used to finance the construction of an electric post that provides them electricity.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kasi kahit papaano tumaas ng sanlibong piso ang pension na natatanggap namin mula sa SSS. Hindi sapat yung P1,000 pero kahit papaano, nakatutulong ito sa pang-araw-araw na gastusin sa bahay,” Estiva said.
Last January, former President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the approved bill increasing the SSS pension by P2,000. The bill would shorten the fund life of SSS to 2029 from 2042 or by 13 years, as the total payout for all pensioners in a year is P56 billion while the agency only has an annual investment income of P30 to P40 billion, Aquino said in his veto message.
There is more than enough time for the government and SSS to increase the agency’s fund life as it only took 14 years to increase its fund life to 2042 from 2006 or by 36 years in 2001, according to a statement of former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares.
“Kailangan nating i-pressure ang gobyerno na bigyang pansin ang isyu [ng SSS pension hike] at tumulong magpaliwanag sa mga tao na ang pension hike ay hindi nangangahulugang kailangan ng contribution hike,” said All UP Academic Employees Union-Diliman President Perlita Raña. ■
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