SSS contribution hike seen in April
The planned increase in members’ contribution rate to 14 percent from the present 11 percent is expected to be implemented in April as top officials of the state-run Social Security System (SSS) expect President Duterte to approve their proposal soon to compensate for the impact of last year’s pension hike on the fund’s life.
SSS president and chief executive Emmanuel F. Dooc told reporters Tuesday that the Social Security Commission sent a letter to the President through Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, requesting a 3-percentage points increase in the contribution rate to cover the years 2017 and 2018.
The SSS was unable to implement the contribution rate adjustment as initially scheduled in May last year as it awaited passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill.
Dooc said the commission also sought to increase the minimum monthly salary credit to P4,000 from P1,000 at present as well as the maximum cap to P20,000 from P16,000.
“If we succeed in getting all these requests approved by the President, we will be able to collect more or less P45 billion in additional contribution revenues starting from April to the end of this year,” Dooc said.
The higher contribution rate will allow the SSS to extend the fund life to 2044 from the current 2032, which Dooc said would be “even better” than the prevailing fund life of until 2042.
President Duterte had ordered that the SSS members’ contribution rate be raised in increments of 1.5 percentage points a year until 2020 to reach 17 percent from the current 11 percent.
The contribution rate increase is necessary because the SSS’ actuarial life will be reduced by 14-17 years to 2025-2028 if members’ contributions will not be increased.
President Duterte in January last year approved a two-stage monthly pension increase of P2,000, of which P1,000 a month was already being disbursed to pensioners since March.
The latest SSS data showed that its net income plunged to P9.69 billion as of end-November last year mainly because of the pension increase.
Dooc said the implementation of the contribution rate hike was expected to be “faster” if the President or the Executive Secretary would issue a circular or memorandum similar to the one issued by Mr. Duterte last year to implement the pension increase.
Also, another way that the SSS can raise the contribution rate is through the amendments on the pension fund’s charter currently pending in Congress, which include a provision empowering the Social Security Commission to implement it without presidential approval, Dooc added.
Dooc earlier said that the SSS was concerned that the implementation of reforms needed to sustain the fund’s life following a pension hike last year, specifically the planned increase in contribution rate, might be delayed to the second quarter as Congress prioritizes other matters, including the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
“The committee report is now being prepared but it has been stalled by the ongoing Senate investigations that have occupied our senators’ priority. We have full trust in Sen. Richard Gordon’s legislative skills and leadership that he would successfully steer it through the plenary and the bicameral conference. We also expect the same support from the leadership of the House [of Representatives], which passed the counterpart measure early last year,” Dooc said.
“The looming impeachment trial in the Senate may also upset our timelines,” according to Dooc.
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