Bayan Muna: SSS using old scare tactics to avoid pension hike

Social Security System (SSS) president Emmanuel Dooc is using old scare tactics for the fund to defer payment of pension increases, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman and former Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

Reacting to a statement by Dooc that the SSS may suffer bankruptcy if it is forced to pay additional P2.5 billion a month to pensioners starting 2019, the Bayan Muna leaders said the government-owned corporation has more than enough time to find additional sources of income to pay the 2,000 pesos monthly pension increase of its members.

“This is the same scare tactic used by the previous SSS administration. It would be well for Dooc to stop scaring the people [with] this phantom adverse effect once the current pension is increased,” added Rep. Zarate.

In response to Dooc’s statement that SSS needs to hike the members’ monthly payments to fund the pension increase, Zarate said that the House Joint Resolution No. 10 passed by the House of Representatives in 2017 mandating the SSS pension increase does not allow for an increase in premium contribution.

“The present SSS leadership has assured to institute needed reforms to improve its fund life. What happened to these reforms? Again, it is best for the SSS board and management to support the pension increase and work with Congress in looking for means to increase its current fund life,” Zarate said.

Colmenares for his part said that Dooc should stop deluding the people that SSS has no funds for the second tranche P1,000 pension increase.

“They are trying to sabotage the distribution of the P1,000 pension increase, even if it [SSS] has actually admitted several times that it has the funds for the pension increase. At most, the increase will only shorten the SSS fund life to 2026 instead of the current 2032, based on the SSS’ own computations,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares said that even if the shortened fund life is true, eight years is more than enough time for the government and SSS to find ways other than increasing members’ premium payments.

“In 2001, SSS declared that it has a fund life of only five years and yet it was able to increase this to 2042 in just 14 years. If it previously survived a five year fund life, then surely it can also survive an eight year fund life,” he said.

Colmenares said the SSS is in fact in better shape than its counterparts in United Kingdom (UK), which has a fund life of only up to 2027, and Canada, which has a fund life until 2022.

Colmenares said the SSS could instead implement the following:

  • improve collection efficiency from the employers of its 31 Million members;
  • collect the billions in contributions, which delinquent employers failed to remit in the last ten years;
  • cut down in bonuses and perks given to its Board members and collect the disallowed more than P200 Million  retirement package given to SSS Board Members in 2009; and
  • collect the fines imposed by the courts against employers who violated the SSS law.

“If these are not enough, then Congress can always provide for subsidies as provided under Section 20 of RA 8282 as amended. There is no way that the SSS will go bankrupt since under Section 21of the said law, the Philippine government guarantees the benefits and solvency of the SSS,”  Colmenares said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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