“It has no moral authority to collect more because it still has a lot more to collect.”
So said a lawmaker hitting the Social Security System (SSS) plan to increase its members’ premium contributions as there are still P90-billion uncollected premiums from delinquent employers.
Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list said on Friday that the SSS should first collect these unpaid premiums before implementing such increase.
“The SSS should not increase its premium it should first 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 said.
Monthly SSS contributions are set to increase this month from 10.4 percent to 11 percent, making the total contribution of a minimum wage earner in Metro Manila at P945—P308 of which is the employee’s share while the remaining P636.20 is the employer’s.
SSS Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros said in October last year that the increase is set to reduce the government corporation’s unfunded liability by P166 billion, or 15 percent.
The increase drew ire from the public as it was deemed irregular by observers. In 2012, SSS officials and board members received an average of P1 million in bonuses in 2012.
“If they are saying that they are running low on funds then why did give out huge bonuses for themselves? They cannot claim lack of funds while at the same time giving themselves large bonuses,” the lawmaker said.
In his 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Benigno Aquino 3rd expressed his support of the increase.
“President Aquino should not have ordered the increase premium during his 2013 State of the Nation Address. [He] should now order SSS to desist from implementing this increased premium,” ended Colmenares.
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,” said Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol
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.
But for Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao of Isabela, 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.
WITH REPORT FROM LLANESCA T. PANTI