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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, September 25, 2013
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No hike in SSS benefits
BY ADRIAN NEMES III

There will be no increase in benefits for members of the Social Security System this year, Manolito Tagalog, SSS Western Visayas Division assistant vice president, announced at a press conference in Bacolod City yesterday.

Tagalog, who attended the inauguration of the extension office of SSS at the Robinsons Place Bacolod City yesterday, said that the agency is trying to avoid the scenario in 2001 to 2005 where their disbursements were higher than their revenues.

He said the last increase in members benefit was in 2006 yet and the present call for an increase depends on the approval of President Benigno Aquino III. If it pushes through, there should also be an increase in members’ contribution, he said.

“We are not only thinking of the present but also of the future so we need to increase the contributions so we could finance the members’ benefits in the future”, Tagalog said.

At present, the minimum monthly contribution is set at around 10.4 percent of an SSS member’s compensation with members shouldering 30 percent of the contribution and the rest covered by employers.

SSS commissioner, Diana Pardo-Aguilar earlier said that the agency needed to implement an increase in contributions soon to help it achieve the goal of making the fund perpetual, which is the international standard for any pension fund.

She said the current “actuarial life” of the SSS fund is only up to 2039, and that means that if the existing rates of contributions remain unchanged, the agency will be able to service pension claims only until that year.

SSS has recorded an increase of P36.2 billion revenue last year, which is 42 percent higher than that of 2011 which was only P25.55 billion.

Tagalog said many are suggesting that, instead of an increase in contribution, SSS should collect the dues of delinquent members. However, even if all delinquent payments are collected, they will still not be sufficient to fund the increase of members’ benefits for the next years, he said.

Tagalog added that, at present, there are about a million SSS members in Western Visayas and they are targeting a 15 percent increase by next year.

‘AlkanSSSya Program’

Tagalog said he was happy to note as well that Bacolod City piloted the AlkanSSSya program in Western Visayas which is aimed at recruiting informal sector workers and people without permanent income, who are members of a cooperative or an association, to practice innovative micro saving scheme with SSS.

He said the fisherfolk of Villa Esperanza in Brgy. Tangub and the tricycle drivers association in Brgy. 17 in Bacolod, were the pioneer members of the program in the entire Visayas.

Under the AlkanSSSya Program, the cooperative or organization of informal sector workers will be given a box where their members can drop their SSS contribution of as low as P10 a day to save up to P312 in a month and by the end of each month, representatives of the agency collect it.

Records from the SSS showed that about 14,000 informal sector workers have already enrolled in the program since its launch last year.*APN

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