Congress urged to review SSS pension hike bill
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Congress should review its proposal to raise the retirement pension for Social Security System (SSS) members by P2,000, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.

In its review, Baldoz said Congress should take into account the results of an actuarial study prepared by the SSS.

She stressed the need for a more enlightened, objective and sober assessment of the issue to ensure the interest of the greater number of SSS members is upheld and protected.

“While the objective of enhancing pension is ideal, the SSS is also duty-bound to safeguard its financial viability and its future liabilities,” Baldoz explained.

Based on SSS actuarial studies, if a P2,000 across-the-board increase in retirement pension is implemented, the pension fund would be forced to draw and use its Investment Reserve Fund, which could diminish over the years and eventually dry up by 2029.

Baldoz also gave assurances that DOLE was exerting all efforts to ensure that employers would judiciously remit their premium share to SSS.

“We are cooperating with the SSS by sharing our respective databases, under a Memorandum of Agreement which I have signed before the end of last year,” she noted.

She said the MOA seeks to improve employers’ compliance with a requirement that they enroll their workers for coverage and for employers to remit their contributions.

“We are also furnishing the SSS findings of our Labor Law Compliance Officers relative to non-compliant establishments,” she said.

Through its Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS), DOLE strictly monitors business establishments’ compliance with labor laws governing the grant of social benefits.

Also yesterday, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) urged both Houses of Congress to probe and open the books of SSS.

“By opening the books, members can really see for themselves if SSS money is enough or not to fund the 2,000 pension hike,” TUCP noted.

TUCP said SSS members can also check the operating costs and expenses of SSS executives.

In Zamboanga City, SSS vice president for Western Mindanao Rodrigo Filoteo said President Aquino’s rejection of the P2,000 pension hike was commendable as it would prevent the pension fund from getting bankrupt.

“As far as the SSS is concerned, we are just trying to clarify the issues – whatever impact this will have on  the members and tell the true picture of what will happen to the SSS if the increase is granted,” Filoteo said.

“We have no problem with that but are you willing to lose your benefits when the time comes?” he added.

“If the increase will be given we will have a shortfall of about P36 billion because we have to dig from our reserve fund and the moment we touch our reserve fund just to pay the pension, the reserve fund will be drained and nothing can be taken out,” he added.

The official said politics may be behind Rep. Neri Colmenares’ insistence that a P2,000 hike is attainable. He said the Bayan Muna party-list congressman should have made the proposal when the election season was still years away. – With Roel Pareño

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