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National

SSS 'has no moral authority' to hike contributions - Bayan Muna solon

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- An activist lawmaker on Friday blasted the Social Security System, which has begun implementing an increase in members’ contributions this month, saying it “has no moral authority to collect more.”

Representative Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna said instead of hiking members’ contributions, the SSS should instead collect some P90 billion in unremitted premiums from delinquent employers.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino also demanded that the 0.6-percent increase in contributions be suspended indefinitely, calling it “unjustified and grossly detrimental to the interests of the members of the state pension fund.”

SSS officials have said the state pension fund has an accumulated unfunded liability estimated at P1.1 trillion since 1980. Increasing at a rate of eight percent per annum, this would wipe out the SSS by 2041.

To address this, President Benigno Aquino III approved the increase in September last year.

SSS president Emilio de Quiros Jr. also said the increase is part of its “reform agenda,” which seeks to gradually lengthen the actuarial life of the Social Security Fund.

But Colmenares said if this was the case, officers of the state-owned pension fund should not have given themselves hefty bonuses last year.

"If they are saying that they are running low on funds, then why give out huge bonuses for themselves?  They cannot claim lacks of funds while at the same time given themselves large bonuses," he said as he challenged President Benigno Aquino III to rescind his order to increase the premiums.

The BMP also dismissed De Quiros’ explanation.

“How can it go bankrupt when presently, the SSS has more than 30 million members and is increasing rapidly furthermore, it has invested billions of pesos of its members’ funds in highly profitable industries such as real estate, mining, telecommunication, banking and power,” BMP’s Gie Relova said.

The labor organization demanded an investigation of the SSS, including what it called its “anti-people” investments in mining and its continued exposure in the “volatile” Philippine Stock Exchange.

“Only after an investigation and transparency measures (are) in place and (with) improved services can the government justify the contribution increase. Until they do so, wave upon wave of protest actions shall be launched against the parasitic and unmistakably anti-worker policy of the Aquino government,” Relova warned.

The increase in contributions translates to around P60 for an employee earning P10,000 a month.

In 2012, SSS membership included 602,139 employers, 21,945,734 employees, 3,803,327 self-employed and 3,708,306 voluntary members.
There were 1,595,741 pensioners as of December 2012 receiving social security benefits (retirement, death, disability) and employee’s compensation benefits (death, disability), data from the SSS website showed.

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