The Social Security System (SSS) expects the signing of the joint resolution from the House of Representatives and the Senate on the proposed pension increase before the Christmas break to pave the way for the release of the initial P1,000 benefit at the start of 2017.
Social Security Commission (SSC) Chair Dean Amado D. Valdez said that in order for pensioners to receive the additional P1,000 in time for January 2017, SSS needs the formal approval of the proposal before the year ends, since pensions are disbursed to banks the month prior to their scheduled release.
Dean Valdez explained that the joint resolution on the P2,000 pension increase would first have to be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then a Commission Resolution shall be sent to Malacañang for the formal approval of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, before SSS can implement it.
“SSS is also guided by the Department of Finance in ensuring that the implementation of the proposed pension increase will not drive the fund to the brink of bankruptcy. We are wary of possible criticisms for our support for the pension increase, and we don’t want to be seen as irresponsible,” Dean Valdez said.
The SSS chair said that Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III is keen on ensuring that SSS funds would last at least until 2039. SSS funds are currently projected to last until 2042, but granting the entire P2,000 pension increase in 2017 will shorten fund life to only until 2025.
“Based on our actuarial valuation of the proposed implementation of the initial P1,000 hike, SSS funds are projected to last until 2032. However, we are optimistic in adding more years to our fund life, making it last until 2050 by 2022 should SSS succeed in the innovations it plans to undertake to shore up its revenues,” Dean Valdez said.
Among the early measures targeted by the new SSS management to strengthen revenue intake include investing in infrastructure such as toll roads and railways and securing up to 25 percent of ownership in utility corporations. The agency has also tightened its monitoring of employers’ SSS compliance.
SSS is also considering possible joint ventures with developers to maximize gains from SSS assets such as its five-hectare property in Quezon City at the corner of EDSA and East Avenue, part of which can be converted to a high-rise building for residential and commercial use. Dean Valdez said that the East Avenue development will include a high-rise parking to help ease EDSA traffic.
He said that SSS continues to work closely with legislators, whom he credited for acknowledging the rationale behind balancing the need to grant higher pensions with preserving the long-term viability of SSS funds for the benefit of currently-paying members who are future SSS pensioners.
“The legislators have heeded the voice of the people who have been clamoring for the increase in SSS pensions. The same sentiment is shared by President Duterte, who understands that the current SSS pension amounts are inadequate to meet the financial needs of the country’s retirees,” Dean Valdez said.
SSS has been consistent in providing better benefits to its members and pensioners while ensuring the sustainability of the fund.