ORGANIZED labor has sought a legislative probe of all aspects of operations of the Social Security System (SSS) amid a controversy hounding the state pension fund that raised doubts on the integrity of private workers’ money.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) made the call on Wednesday, saying the fund is facing a crisis of credibility triggered by the stock market placement controversy involving four ranking officials of the SSS.
TUCP spokesman Vicente Camilon Jr. said of paramount importance is protection of the fund that comes from contributions of 34.6 million SSS members.
In House Resolution 1482 filed by TUCP Rep. Raymond Mendoza, the labor group asked the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries to look into the operations of the SSS in response to the alarm raised in the controversy on the allegedly questionable purchase of shares of stock in the open market by the four officials of the pension fund amid efforts to increase premium contribution from workers.
“Workers are concerned that the intramurals among SSS high officials might be compromising the fund and endangering the future of SSS members,” Mendoza said, adding that there is an immediate need to assure that workers’ funds are not only intact but, more important, not in the hands of crooks.
The TUCP reiterated its strong objection to the proposal to raise the monthly contribution of SSS members from 11 percent to 12.5 percent in order to sustain the fund and to be able to provide more benefits to SSS members.
It said SSS officials should first strengthen their collection mechanisms and go after errant employers rather than raising the contribution of workers.
The congressman countered the SSS’ assertions that they are running after non-compliant companies, saying the prevailing corporate culture within the pension is laxity in filing cases against erring employers.
“Workers believe that the real problem is the non-remittance by employers of collected workers’ money as contributions which the SSS must resolve first before proposing any addition to members’ contribution as a last resort to sustain its operations and meet its future obligations, and that a heroic effort to go after employers guilty of non-remittance may already address the financing required to maintain the life of the fund,” Mendoza said.
The TUCP refuted the SSS’ assertion that the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion exempting low-income taxpayers from Personal Income Tax will make it affordable for workers to make additional contributions to the SSS.