19 February 2019
Labor bet in Senate race takes a swipe at new SSS Law
Labor leader and senatorial aspirant Leody de Guzman expressed apprehensions at the recently signed RA11199, which amended the charter of the Social Security System (SSS).
He said that the contribution hike is unreasonable and untimely. De Guzman also questioned the provision in the new law that authorizes the SSS Commission to arbitrarily raise premiums without legislation or consultative processes involving its members. He claims this may lead to abuse of discretion if mechanisms are relaxed.
“Walang kasing palpak ang timing ng increase ng SSS contributions, De Guzman asserted, “hindi pa humuhupa ang inflation at nakaamba pa ang pagtaas ng presyo ng langis at kuryente ngayong buwan. Ito nanaman sila. Gagatasan nanaman nila ang mga manggagawa”.
The chair of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) adds that, “ang SSS contribution, gaya ng Philhealth at Pag-ibig ay anyo ng payroll tax na otomatikong binabawas sa take-home pay ng mga empleyado".
Under the new law, employees’ contributions will gradually increase beginning this year to 5% until 2025. Meaning, the present minimum contributions of workers of P110 will increase to P240 this year and reach P750 by 2025.
He was also alarmed at the blanket authority given by the new law to the SSS Commission to arbitrarily increase workers contributions to the social pension fund. De Guzman appealed to the SSS Commission to also look at the workers' capacity for increased payroll taxes, not just the projected life of the agency’s funds based on their actuarial studies.
“It must be stressed that minimum wage earners, who did not benefit from the tax exemptions but were hit by the oil excise taxes by the TRAIN law, will be affected gravely by this untimely and arbitrary decision for increased premium contributions. Workers have no problem with saving for our retirement but thinking of the future is futile if they ignore our urgent and present needs," de Guzman, who runs under Partido Lakas ng Masa on a pro-labor platform clarified.
The labor leader claims that the projections on the actuarial life of the pension fund has been the favorite excuse by SSS Commissions, even during the term of Noynoy Aquino when the SSS commissioners where wallowing in perks and bonuses.
He laments that workers are asked to sacrifice first in order to fill up a depleting fund but when SSS investments are gaining, we are also last to benefit as we have not experienced any lowering of employees contributions and would only be granted with loan rate adjustments and debt condonation programs.
“We demand transparency in all investments made by the social pension fund, after all it was built on the collective toil of the working class”, De Guzman insisted.
The labor leader also wants the SSS to fully disclose the status of their drive to run after delinquent employers who fail to remit contributions.
“The SSS commission should increase its collections before thinking of imposing more contributions. We have yet to see delinquent employers being punished or their properties expropriated by the exercise of the warrants of distrain, levy and garnishment, which should have been deterrents against fund depletion," the labor leader added.
De Guzman is calling on the SSS Commission to suspend the planned increase in employees contributions and pursue a nationwide, transparent, and democratic decision-making process, involving leaders from both the formal and informal labor.
"The SSS must also be reminded that it should first release the second tranche of the pension hike as approved by Congress almost two years ago before contemplating on further reducing workers' take home pay and enticing us with new services to appease us,” De Guzman concluded. ###