Recto: President should okay any hike in SSS contributions
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto thumbed down on Wednesday a proposal that allows Social Security System (SSS) board to raise the monthly contributions of its members even without presidential approval.
The proposal was contained in a bill, which was recently approved in the House of Representatives.
READ: House Oks P2,000 hike in SSS pension
Recto said the power to approve the rate of an SSS member’s monthly contribution should remain with the President because it is a payroll tax.
“When it comes to any mandatory deduction from a workingman’s income, the buck stops at the President’s table,” he said in a statement.
“If you divest people of part of their income, then is better that such power be vested on an individual with a mandate from the people.”
Recto said the President, who was elected by the people, is the “best trustee” for SSS members, and not those appointed in a small sector, apparently referring to the multi-sectoral Social Security Commission (SSC), which would be given under the bill the power to set and approve SSS premiums.
“Siya (the President) ‘yung stakeholder representative na may clear mandate,” the senator said. “Remove him from the equation, then the SSS becomes an autonomous republic.”
Because employers put in a counterpart to their employees contributions, then Recto said, all the more it becomes important for any increase to have “presidential imprimatur.”
“He is the only one who can convince corporate Philippines as well as small businessmen that such an increase is needed,” he said.
Recto said the Commission can recommend the schedule and rate of members’ contributions but the President “must concur.”
The SSC, he said, can also be given the authority to fix and determine the benefits, condone penalties imposed on contributions and loan amortization, and amend the penalty for delinquent contributions “without the need for prior approval of the Philippine President.”
“Pero pagdating sa contributions, na isang payroll tax, kailangan may approval ng Presidente,” said the senator.
Recto also said that while a good President must always heed the views of professionals who run the pension system, “it is better to give the final say to President as some sort of a fail-safe mechanism that can override bad recommendations.”
“We need the President as a tripwire against onerous increases. He can greenlight but he can also abort,” he said.
The senator also downplayed fears that allowing the President to retain that power would politicize the process.
“The President is not up for reelection so he can make tough decisions. That he is term-limited makes him immune from populist pressures,” Recto said.
“No President would like to be remembered as someone who bankrupted the SSS,” he added.
On the contrary, Recto said, granting the President oversight powers over the pension system would allow him to lean on it so it will improve “its bottomline, increase its income and expand membership benefits.” CBB