SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the state pension fund would beef up its efforts to reach out to informal sector workers and provide them with social security protection.
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SSS eyes special program for informal sector workers
(The Philippine Star) - November 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State-run Social Security System (SSS) said yesterday it is considering the creation of a special program which will cater to Filipinos employed in the informal sector.

In a statement, SSS president and chief executive officer Aurora Ignacio said the state pension fund would beef up its efforts to reach out to informal sector workers and provide them with social security protection.

The SSS chief issued the statement following the results of the 2019 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index which said the Philippines has the fourth worst retirement system among 37 countries across the globe.

In response to the study, Ignacio acknowledged that one of the challenges for the state-run pension fund is to ensure universal protection for a large number of workers in the informal economy such as farmers, fisherfolks, market vendors, and others.

As such, she said there is a need for the SSS to launch a special pension program which would encourage them to contribute to the fund and acquire social security benefits.

“For many years now, we have been reaching out to them, strongly encouraging them to pay their SSS which is the cheapest and most accessible retirement savings today. But their varied work arrangements and at times, intermittent income, prevent them from regularly paying SSS premiums,”Ignacio said.

“A challenge for us now is to create a special pension fund program for the informal sector workers like farmers, fisherfolks, among other groups, considering their income spread. These are the areas that SSS will look into,” she said.

Citing the latest International Labor Organization’s survey, she said the Philippines’ informal employment from 2008 to 2017 was recorded at 21.1 million or 56 percent of the labor force.

On the other hand, SSS data showed that members registered under its program for the informal sector, dubbed as AlkanSSSya, only stands at 108,779 as of September 2019.

Likewise, 44,093 members are registered through the Cooperative Accreditation Program and 230,069 members are covered as job order personnel of government offices.

Meanwhile, Ignacio also noted that the Philippines only ranked 11th in the Mercer Global Pension Index among the countries that put social security protection at the forefront of social issues today.

“Many Filipinos see social security protection as just an option during their working years, neglecting the fact that this will be one of their supplemental supports during retirement,” she said.

Under the Mercer study, the Philippines had an overall index value of 43.7 out of 100. This was the Philippines’ first time to be included in the study which is now on its 11th year.

“It is the first time that the Philippines was included in the study, but it already highlights the need for urgent actions to prioritize social security protection for all Filipinos,” Ignacio said.

According to the latest data, the SSS has reached P129.53 billion in benefit payments from January to August 2019. The SSS said more than 58 percent of this amount was disbursed for retirement benefits amounting to P75.11 billion.

AURORA IGNACIO
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