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SSS: Colmenares claim based on old COA numbers

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 07:27 AM February 22, 2019

The Social Security System (SSS) on Thursday said its cumulative uncollected contributions and penalties had reached only P13.8 billion as of 2017 based on the latest Commission on Audit (COA) report, not P437 billion since 2010 as claimed by a senatorial aspirant.

“The [latest] COA audit covered only over 122,000—roughly 14 percent of our employers. But not all employers are delinquent. There are more who are not delinquent,” said Emmanuel Dooc, SSS president and chief executive of the pension fund for workers in the private sector.

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Neri Colmenares, a senatorial candidate and chair of Bayan Muna, said on Wednesday that the SSS need not raise the contribution rate as the pension fund had yet to improve its collection rate.

He urged the agency to make wiser investment decisions, and cut fat bonuses for officials and excessive operating costs.

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Dooc said Colmenares cited “old” findings. “I hope he can come up with the numbers that should likewise be established by an independent and objective entity like the COA,” the official said.

Under Republic Act No. 11199, or the Social Security System Rationalization Act that President Duterte signed on Feb. 7, the SSS will raise the contribution rate from 11 percent of the monthly salary credit by 1 percentage point starting this year until it reaches 15 percent in 2025.

A salary credit is the compensation base for contributions and benefits related to a member’s total monthly earnings.

At least two-thirds of the contribution rate increase will be shouldered by the employer.

Politics in play

Dooc said the SSS had gradually increased its contribution collections from members—from P132 billion in 2015 and P144 billion in 2016 to P159 billion in 2017 and to P181 billion in 2018.

This year, it aims to collect P223 billion.

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For Dooc, politics was in play whenever Colmenares attacked the SSS.

“I know where he is coming from, of course. He is trying to project that he is the champion for the workers,” Dooc said.

“We at the SSS actually are doing our very best to provide protection to the members, [who] now numbers 38 million. In fact, the new law, Republic Act [RA No.] 11199, was designed to ensure the long-term viability of the Social Security System,” he added.

Colmenares has been pushing for further pension increases but opposed any contribution rate increases.

Fund life extended

The difference between a politician and a civil servant, according to Dooc, is that the latter pursues long-term reforms even if these are unpopular.

The SSS fund life was cut by 10 years to 2032 when pensioners were given an additional P1,000 a month starting 2017.

With a higher contribution rate, the pension fund life will be extended until 2045, Dooc said.

Under RA 11199, the Social Security Commission—the pension fund’s highest policymaking body—can implement contribution rate increases even without President Duterte’s  approval, unlike the old charter in which only the chief executive can greenlight rate adjustments.

Also on Thursday, Colmenares said the SSS should demand funding assistance from the national government to help it recoup the billions in losses, instead of turning to its members and demanding higher contributions.

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TAGS: COA, Colmenares, contributions, Dooc, duterte, P13.8 B, report, SSS
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