The House of Representatives has allowed the Social Security System (SSS) to increase the monthly contribution of its members.
This came about after the chamber approved House Bill (HB) 2158 or the Act Rationalizing and Expanding the Powers and Duties of the Social Security Commission and the SSS on third and final reading on Monday night with an overwhelming 227 “Yes” votes.
HB 2158 allows the SSS to determine and fix from time to time, through rules and regulations, the minimum and maximum salary credits of member-employees, the schedule and the rate of contributions of employers and member-employees, the rate of penalty on due but unremitted contributions of employers and member-employees and unpaid loan amortizations of member-employees, taking into consideration actuarial calculations, rate of benefits, inflation and other relevant socio-economic data.
Moreover, the same bill that gives the SSS additional powers provides that the SSS need not secure the approval of the President of the Philippines in raising premiums.
This approval came six days after President Rodrigo Duterte green-lighted an across-the-board P1,000 pension increase for SSS members, a 1.5-percent SSS contribution rate hike starting May 2017 and an increase in monthly salary credit to P20,000 from P16,000.
Lawmakers earlier called for a probe of the status of the Social Security System funds, including its investments, considering the looming SSS premium hike.
“Congress has oversight powers on the SSS, and we should be able to find out the status of SSS fund, where they spend their collection of premium payments. If it is on investments, then we should also look at those investments,” Rep. Eugene de Vera of Arts, Business and Science Professionals party-list, also the House deputy minority leader, told reporters.
Under the existing SSS Law, an increase in benefits for SSS pensioners must not be subsidized by a concurrent increase in the members’ monthly premium.
“We have to make sure that the SSS can’t spend the 1.5 percent premium increase for the additional pension, because that would be illegal. In fact, a 1.5-percent increase is still pricey, considering that the SSS last premium increase in 2014 was from 10.4 percent to 11 percent,” de Vera said.
Rep. Salvador Belaro of 1-Edukasyon party-list agreed, saying the SSS’s efficiency is on trial.
“It’s the capacity of the SSS in question here. It is only fair for us to know where they spend their fund and how efficient they are,” Belaro added.
But for Rep. Mark Sambar of PBA party-list, there should be presumption of regularity over the proposed 1.5-percent SSS premium hike.
“Hiking the premium is not about the pension, but sustaining or even raising the SSS fund. For all we know, this 1.5 percent could not even be enough,” Sambar added.