Palace: Duterte still studying possible SSS contribution hike

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 1) — There will be no increase in social security contribution just yet, according to the Palace.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said the President is still studying if there is a need to increase members' contribution to the Social Security System (SSS).

"Ang ebidensya na naniniwala ang Presidente na dapat pang magpataw ng mas mataas na premium sa SSS ay kung siya ay mag-iissue pa ng executive order," Roque said.

(Translation: The proof that the President believes there should be an increase in SSS premium would be if he issues an executive order.)

SSS officials asked for a go signal from the President to increase the contribution rate from 11 percent to 14 percent of the employee's gross income by April.

SSS Chairperson Amado Valdez said this was after pensioners complained about the difference between the pension received by their members and those of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Valdez said the GSIS charges 21 percent of the gross salary of its members.

The SSS serves as the insurance provider of workers in the private sector, including self-employed, voluntary members, and overseas Filipino workers. Meanwhile, GSIS is for government workers.

"We thought we want to put the two institutions in parity with each other, and that's the reason why we recommended last year, 1.5% increase and another 1.5 increase today so that somehow we could bring the gap closer in terms of benefits being received by retirees of SSS and of GSIS," Valdez told CNN Philippines on Thursday.

In 2017, the agency already called for an increase in contribution rate after President Rodrigo Duterte approved a P1,000 increase in pension of SSS retirees.

Since May 2017, the SSS has been paying out P2 billion a month to cover the increase in pensions for 218,000 retired members.

Valdez added SSS members should treat the increase as a "savings scheme."

"It's not really lost in the water. Once you pay it, you are saving for your future protection, security protection so the clamor of many of our members is for them to save more and we can only do that by doing this particular increase," he added.

Other than the contribution increase, the agency is also looking at other means to stabilize the pension fund.

"We heightened the pressure to collect from the employers. In fact, we have been filing cases here and there, and this resulted in a very substantial increase in our collection," Valdez said.

In addition, SSS is also looking at joint venture development of  its prime properties, which is expected to increase the agency's income.