• LAWMAKERS EYE PROBE OF HUGE SSS BONUSES

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    A Congressional probe on the P10-million bonus of Social Security System (SSS) board members amid the increased premium for SSS members has been proposed in the House of Representatives—even as Malacañang rallied to the defense of such perks.

    Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna made the call under their House Resolution 369, which tasks the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct the inquiry in aid of legislation.

    The Bayan Muna lawmakers hit the SSS Board of Directors’ P10- million Performance Based Bonus in 2012 among other benefits, considering that the SSS has continuously refused to support the increase in pension for SSS members by claiming that it does not have enough funding to do so.

    The P10-million worth of bonus was taken from SSS corporate funds at a time that the Board is set to hike its membership premium because of unfunded liability.

    “The SSS Board has failed to collect billions in unremitted premiums from delinquent employers, which not only means that they have no right to increase premium contributions but also that they have no right to a good performance bonus,” the Bayan Muna legislators said in their House Resolution.

    Further, the Bayan Muna lawmakers cited that many SSS members continue to complain about delays by months and even years of the processing of SSS applications such as those for disability, pension, funeral and death benefits.

    “Even the SSS admits, that pensions of retiree senior citizens is below the poverty line. The delays in service should be charged against the management and not its employees because the Board is responsible and therefore accountable for the services rendered, or lack thereof, by SSS,” they added.

    Meanwhile, Malacañang on Thursday defended the hefty bonuses given to the officials and employees of the SSS.

    Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda insisted that there is nothing irregular about the big bonuses that SSS board of directors received.

    He said that even its employees were also given bonuses every year.

    ”The bonus is contingent on the revenues and generated plus also other requirements as imposed by GCG [Governance Commission for GOCCs],” Lacierda said

    ”I can say that they are performing their job very responsibly and what with what we call in Latin as ‘Uberrima fides’—’utmost good faith,’” he added

    Lacierda said that the basis for making any bonus announcement is largely set forth by the guidelines of the GCG.

    ”Apart from its performance, you have certain requirements. Even if it’s a good year a particular GOCC, if the member of the board does not comply with certain requirements, not all directors get the bonus,” he said.

    The Palace official issued a statement after SSS President and Chief Executive Emilio de Quiros Jr. announced the increase in contribution next year as the higher monthly rate of 11 percent from 10.4 percent starts January 2014.

    As of December 2011, the unfunded liability of SSS was at P1.07 trillion, which increases by about 8 percent a year.

    According to Lacierda, the increase in contribution rate is to correct unfunded liability, and this will reduce the unfunded liability by P166 billion, or 15 percent.

    ”Reforms in the SSS are being pushed to fund perpetuity and reduce its unfunded liability,” Lacierda said, citing that the 10.4-percent SSS’ contribution rate is only half of the 21-percent GSIS’ rate.

    For the Fund to last 70 years, which is the international standard for fund perpetuity, Lacierda said that the contribution rate should be 14.1 percent.

    Since 1980, he cited that members’ contribution rate has only been increased twice in 2003 and 2007, which has resulted in SSS’ unfunded liability estimated at 1.1 trillion in 2011.

    ”If members’ contribution is not increased, the Fund’s liability will increase by eight percent per year and it’s actuarial life is projected to last until 2039 [28 years],” Lacierda said

    ”To address these, the SSS, in consultation with labor and employer groups, has proposed to increase members’ contribution rate from 10.4 percent to 11 percent.

    This will help reduce by 8 percent per year and it’s actuarial life is projected to last until 2039 [28 years],” he added

    On planned Senate inquiry on SSS bonuses, Lacierda said that the Palace is confident that such incentives are defensible.

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