ADDITIONAL pension benefits ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte cannot be implemented without Malacañang taking further action or Congress amending the law, the chief of the Social Security System (SSS) said.
“We do not have the power to give an additional P1,000 benefit by next year. The SSC does not have the power to adjust the contribution rate or amount of monthly pension, only the President of the Republic and Congress have the power to approve a pension increase,” SSS President and CEO Emmanuel Dooc said in a statement.
Duterte, he added, will have to issue an executive order while Congress needs to approve proposed amendments to Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Law of 1997.
“Just like what I have said earlier, our goal here in SSS is to see to it that we are able to release the second tranche [of the pension]still within the term of President Duterte, which can be approved in 2022 during his last year in office,” Dooc said.
A P2,000 SSS pension hike was ordered by Duterte in January 2017, with half to be released immediately and the remaining P1,000 to be issued by 2022, coupled with a financial mechanism that would sustain the pension fund’s viability.
Dooc said the SSS shelled out some P33 billion in 2017 to implement the first P1,000 increase.
The amount needed for the second tranche will slightly be higher as the number of pensioners increases by an average of 100,000 per year, he added.
Dooc claimed that the SSS was performing well in terms of increasing collections to support growing benefit disbursements.
“We recorded P159 billion in contribution collection in 2017. This shows that our efforts to collect from employers and individual members have become effective. For 2018, we aim to improve collection further by around 18 to 20 percent over last year,” he said.
Dooc reiterated that higher contribution rates or adjustments to the minimum and maximum monthly salary credits were needed to fund the pension hike, the first tranche of which also reduced the SSS’ expected fund life to 2032 from 2042.
The SSS could generate some P7 billion in the last quarter of 2018 if a 1.5-percent increase in the contribution rate and adjustments to the minimum salary credit (from P1,000 to P4,000) and maximum salary credit (P16,000 to P20,000) are implemented by October, he said.
Should the second P1,000 tranche be implemented in 2019 without any funding mechanism, the SSS’ fund life will further be shortened to 2026, Dooc said.