• Lawmakers seek deferment of SSS premium hike

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    PARTY LIST lawmakers on Friday pushed for the deferment of the looming hike of Social Security System’s  (SSS) members’ contributions.

    Representatives Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol party list and Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party list were referring to the new SSS policy effective this month that requires each of the 30 million SSS individual members to pay a higher monthly rate of 11 percent from their salary for the SSS premium, up from the previous rate of 10.4 percent.

    “Our people have been suffering already as a result of successive calamities. The increase in SSS premium is ill timed and unfortunate. We need safety nets to cushion its impacts on the people. Otherwise, it would be better to defer the increase,” Batocabe, a lawyer, said.

    Batocabe was alluding to the larger than life devastation brought by Super Typhoon Yolanda which left at least 6,000 people dead in the Visayas. An unprecedented P4.15 per kilowatt hour Meralco power rate hike is also in the offing before it was stopped by the Supreme Court via a Temporary Restraining Order.

    Colmenares, a lawyer like Batocabe, then underscored that the SSS have a lot to explain in the first place considering that its Board approved bonuses for its high-ranking officials and at the same time justifying the premium increase by saying that the SSS would need it to cover retirement and other benefits beyond the year 2039.

    Colmenares, the House Deputy Minority Leader, was referring to the P1-million worth of bonus that SSS President Emilio de Quiros and seven other commissioners each got for good performance in the year 2012.

    “The SSS should not increase its premium. Instead, it should collect its P90 billion uncollected premiums from delinquent employers. It has no moral authority to collect more because it still has a lot more to collect,” Colmenares argued.

    “They said that they are running low on funds. Why then did they give out huge bonuses for themselves? They cannot claim lack of funds while at the same time giving themselves large bonuses,” Colmenares added.

    But for House Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela province, the hike in SSS premiums would be beneficial in the long run.

    “The adjustment is necessary to stave off bankruptcy of SSS in the long term. It is only reasonable,” Aggabao said. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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