Lawmakers urge SSS to increase collection efficiency
The Social Security System said proposals by congressmen to increase the monthly pension of qualified members by P1,000 to P2,000 will reduce the pension fund life by 7 to 12 years.
SSS Senior Vice President and Chief Actuary Atty. Edgar Cruz said the latest study projects that the state pension’s fund life will last until 2054. But paying out the proposed P1,000 increase in monthly pension will cost an additional P47.2 billion for the first year of implementation alone, which is seen to shorten the SSS fund life to 2047.
On the other hand, a P2,000 monthly pension hike will cost up to P115.6 billion in additional payout at the last tranche of implementation, reducing the fund life to 2042.
The SSS also thumbed down house bills seeking to expand SSS unemployment benefits to a maximum of six months from the current two, saying it will shorten the fund life by one year.
"We are not supporting the bills for reasons previously cited, na hindi po kaya ng pondo. It would have an adverse effect on our future pensioners and future members,” Cruz told the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization on Tuesday.
"Compared to the pension increase, ‘yung panukala to increase ‘yung unemployment benefits, ‘yung impact is not as big, pero malaki pa rin po. We’re still talking of a couple of billions,” he added.
“‘Yung two months na ibinibigay natin, dito sa ating existing policy natin, hindi sapat para makahanap ng trabaho eh. Lalu na itong pandemic. Kaya mayroon tayong proposed bill na madagdagan siya,” Committee Chairperson, Rep. Edwin Olivarez said.
"Kung dadagdagan pa natin 'yun, it will simply add to the huge unfunded liability of the system… it’s not good actuarial practice to provide benefits enhancements kung walang source of additional funding,” Cruz asserted.
ACT Teachers Party List Reprsentative France Castro expressed dismay over the position of SSS, and urged the state pension fund to be creative and more efficient in collecting premiums. But Cruz claimed increasing collection efficiency will not reduce SSS’s unfunded liabilities.
Former lawmaker Neri Colmenares, who previously authored a bill proposing SSS pension hike, disagreed.
"Kailangan maging proactive din ang SSS natin… Dapat mayroon din silang mga proposal na iba pa, o naglalalan sila ng budget just in case may ganitong pangyayari sa kanilang member na talagang kailangang kailangan ng tulong sa SSS. Parang pansagot lang naman ito sa inflation,” she said.
"Sinasabi niya kanina, ‘wag lang asahan ang SSS na magsasagot sa inyong pangangailangan… Ina-assume natin na talagang ang SSS ay maging creative din. Gaano ba kalaki na ngayon ang hindi nasisingil sa SSS na employer?” Castro asked.
"Of course mayroon talagang employers who are remiss in their obligations and the SSS continues to exert efforts in collecting from them… ‘Yung failure of some employers to remit contributions does not affect ‘yung unfunded liability… ang benepisyong ibinabayad namin base sa contribution ninyo,” Cruz said.
"Ang actuarial studies, siyempre lahat ng increase ng pension bababa talaga ‘yung life span ng pondo at may epekto talaga ‘yung whether it’s one year or six months or three years…Hindi pwedeng hindi mo susuportahan ang pag-increase ng pension dahil iiksi ang life span ng pondo. Otherwise, eh 'di wala na talagang increase ‘yun forever, ‘di ba?” Colmenares added.
“Ayusin n’yo kaya ang koleksyon niyo… Hindi totoo ‘yung sinabi kanina ni Atty. Cruz na kung tumaas ang koleksyon namin, wala namang epekto sa pondo ‘yan. Of course may epekto ‘yan. Kung tumaas ang collection rate mo at dumami ang nagbibigay, lumalaki ang capital mo for investment,” he said.
"2019, 37.7 million ang members ng SSS, aba’y 17 million lang ang nako-koleksyunan niyo…Kung may missing pa rin kayo na more than kalahati na nak-koleksyunan, ibig sabihin dismal ang collection rate efficiency,” Colmenares noted.
SSS explained that a significant portion of the country’s labor force comes from the informal sector, but assured the committee it is developing programs to encourage the informal sector to pay premiums.
“Ang big elephant in the room pa rin po ay the fact that the benefits that we provide are significantly more than the contributions we are collecting,” Cruz said.
The committee will vote on the related house bills after SSS submits its written position.
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