Senator wants assurance SSS won’t hike rates

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday sought an assurance that the postponement of Social Security System’s contribution rate increase will not compromise the benefits the workers in the formal economy are enjoying.

“I understand why we need this measure, but I also want us to be sure that the benefits for the workers in the formal economy will not be jeopardized if the new contribution rates are deferred,” she said.

The state-run social insurance program is set to implement its 1 percentage point hike this year, increasing the previous 12 percent deduction from the members’ salaries to 13 percent this year.

The proposed amendment, however, seeks to grant power to the president to defer increases in contributions during a national emergency or state of calamity.

While she supports the measure, Hontiveros says there must be enough funding to support the benefits and loans that may be given to SSS members, such as the maternity package as well as the additional P1,000 for social pension for retired members.

As the author of Expanded Maternity Leave Law, Hontiveros says, she wants to make sure the cash benefit of pregnant women will not be affected.

“Do we also have an assurance there will be a continuity of SSS maternity benefits?” she said.

“Do we also have an assurance that the additional P1,000 pension would still be received by pensioners despite the deferment of the new rates?”

Hontiveros also highlighted the importance of granting the unemployment cash benefit that will serve as income security for displaced and retrenched employees.

“Around 420,000 workers were laid off in 2020. If, say, half of them are entitled to unemployment benefits and another 100,000 eligible members will lose their jobs this 2021, will the SSS be able to pay what is due them?

“Can they assure that they would have no problem settling claims of this magnitude?

“Iba ang naging projection noong ginagawa pa lang ang Implementing Rules and Regulations ng 2018 SSS Law.

“Now, a reduction in their projected revenues could really create the fear of a strain on the cash of the SSS, lalo na ngayon at napakaraming nawalan ng trabaho dahil sa pandemya.

“I wish to support the bill because we all know that our workers are facing rising food and transport costs. But our workers and our pensioners also need the SSS today, perhaps more than ever.”

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