Only P13.5-B contribution delinquency, SSS clarifies
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Uncollected premium contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) of members and their employers are down to P13.5 billion, SSS vice president for public affairs Marissu Bugante said yesterday.

“Based on the 2013 COA (Commission on Audit) report, contribution delinquency was down to P13.5 billion. Even if we collect the P13.5 billion… this would not be enough to fund the P2,000 pension increase as this is just 24 percent of the P56 billion needed for 2016 alone,” she said in a letter to The STAR.

She was referring to the P2,000 pension hike contained in a bill President Aquino has vetoed.

She said the P325-billion delinquent contributions revealed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares “refers to the uncollected revenues in 2008 mentioned in a letter to then Congressman Lorenzo Tañada III as basis for the contribution penalty condonation law implemented in 2010.”

“We continue to ensure compliance of employers to the SSS Law through legal action,” she said.

“Since 2010, out of 8,869 cases filed against employers for non-remittance of contributions and loan payments, 7,786 have been terminated due to full payment of SSS obligations or they have entered into a compromise agreement with SSS to settle their obligations, while 26 employers have been meted imprisonment of up to 20 years and made to pay penalties as well,” she said.

Bugante added that the figures Colmenares mentioned should be understood in their proper context.

“It is important to indicate the date and source of data that are being presented. When the SSS was initially invited by Congress to present the impact of the P2,000 pension increase early 2015, the data provided by the SSS was based on our 2014 financial report; while the data provided to the Office of the President in late 2015 was based on 2015 financials,” she said.

She confirmed that they had originally estimated a deficit of just P4 billion if the P2,000 pension increase were granted.

The estimate has jumped to P26 billion based on 2016 financial projections, she said.

As for the COA report on idle SSS assets, Bugante said: “We would like to report that SSS assets have not remained idle. In fact, for the first eleven months of 2015, the SSS generated an income of P620 million from the lease and sale of SSS-owned real estate properties such as residential and commercial lots, condominium units, buildings and parking lots; with about P1 billion worth of assets already up for bidding.

“The rest of the SSS assets are either for sale, or are retained as SSS property due to their expected increase in value,” she said.

Pass counterpart bill

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. urged the Senate yesterday to pass a counterpart bill that would allow the SSS to increase contributions and enable it to grant P2,000 more in the monthly pension of retirees.

Belmonte said it would be better if the Senate passed the counterpart measure to the SSS pension hike bill, which was vetoed by President Aquino.

The House earlier approved the “sister bill” to the measure increasing the SSS pension.

The counterpart measure approved by the House gives the SSS additional leeway to adjust contributions as enjoyed by the Government Service Insurance System.

The Senate, however, did not pass the counterpart bill.

“I urge the Senate to simply approve our second bill enlarging the powers of the SSS board, and once it becomes law, they can increase the pensions without Congress intervention,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte and other leaders of the Liberal Party also said the LP will not take a stand on calls to override President Aquino’s veto on the proposed P2,000 increase in pension of SSS retirees.

Belmonte said LP members, who number over 100 in the House of Representatives, would have to decide on their own whether or not to support moves to override the veto.

Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas, LP whip for the Visayas, said the party would not take a stand to override the veto of the President.

“I do not think any of the members will do so. I am still hopeful a compromise can be found as declared by the Speaker,” Treñas said.

The LP leaders issued the statement after the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), the country’s second biggest political party, said it was thinking of spearheading moves to overturn Aquino’s veto.

Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, who is also president of the NPC, on Wednesday said the party fully supports the bill that Aquino vetoed owing to the high cost of living.

“Many party members understand that the eroding values of the present pension has made it difficult for many retirees to escape poverty,” Aggabao said.

“NPC may have to take a party stand to override the veto, should it come to that,” he said, adding increasing retirees’ pension “would provide a meaningful boost to their income.”

He stressed the NPC has supported the administration in its core priorities and will continue to work with it on matters like reforming the SSS to help pay for the increase in benefits.

The NPC’s statement came following calls for lawmakers to override Aquino’s veto.

Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II earlier said there has never been a vetoed bill that Congress had overridden.

Hike in SSS premium 

The SSS is planning to increase the monthly premium contribution of its 33 million members to fund a P1,000 hike in the pension of 2.15 million retirees that lawmakers are suggesting.

“We are now studying a 2.4-percent additional premium to finance a P1,000 pension increase that will cost about P28 billion for one year for all retirees,” SSS senior vice president for actuary George Ongkeko Jr. told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye restaurant in Quezon City.

He said the additional 2.4 percent would raise premium contribution to 13.4 percent from the present 11 percent.

“The sharing is one-third from the employee and two-thirds from the employer,” he said. With Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin, Marvin Sy, Edith Regalado, Artemio Dumlao


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