Diokno: ‘Use of public funds to shore up SSS unfair to taxpayers’ » Manila Bulletin News

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Diokno: ‘Use of public funds to shore up SSS unfair to taxpayers’

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By Genalyn Kabiling

The Social Security System (SSS) must find its own solution to fund its proposed pension hike without relying on government subsidy, according to the country’s budget chief.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said it is unfair for taxpayers that public funds will be used to bankroll the private sector pension fund.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (Screenshot from RTVM / MANILA BULLETIN)

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno
(Screenshot from RTVM / MANILA BULLETIN)

“To give you a historical perspective, even during the time of President Marcos, he did not touch SSS because it is a private pension fund. You contribute to that fund and when you retire, you get benefits from that fund,” Diokno said in a Palace press briefing.

“Given that perspective, I don’t think it is fair to say use taxpayers’ money to subsidize the benefits of the pension members, the SSS members,” he said.

Instead, Diokno urged the SSS board to consider prudent options such as imposing higher SSS member contributions and intensifying debt collection efficiency, to shore up its kitty.

“If there’s any solution, I think they should find it within the system and what we are proposing is a salary,  a contribution, adjustment,” he said.

The proposed higher SSS contribution, however, should only be done after the government has implemented the tax reforms, Diokno said. “Because of the tax reforms, you’ve got more money in your pockets, and therefore you are now in a position to contribute a small amount for the pension of those who are already receiving pension. That’s our solution,” he said.

Diokno also encouraged SSS to increase its collection efficiency to improve its financial standing. “I understand some corporations have been indebted to SSS, maybe they could call on them,” he said.

Former Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Colmenares earlier proposed a government subsidy to prolong the life of the pension fund and pave the way for the pension increase.

Colmenares made the proposal after President Duterte has been reluctant in approving the proposed pension hike due to concerns it might cause the bankruptcy of the SSS.

Duterte is expected to meet with his economic team soon to come up with a win-win solution that would balance the interests of all concerned parties.

Read more: Malacañang seeks ‘win-win’ solution to SSS pension hike

In the same Palace news conference, Diokno said the President could return the memorandum sent by the SSS board on the proposed pension hike and ask them to make another proposal.

“If I were the President, I would do that, okay. I appointed you there specifically to come up with a solution. You manage a private fund,” he said.

Even though the SSS pension hike is one of Duterte’s campaign promises, Diokno admitted that it was unfair to pass the buck to the President.

“It should not have reached the President’s desk. The board of trustees should have exercised leadership and say, ‘no, we cannot do it unless we do the following things.’ And there are many things like they can increase the collection efficiency,” he said.

Diokno, likewise, defended the President from criticisms he is reneging on a campaign promise about the SSS pension increase.

He pointed out that there is a difference between the “candidate Duterte” and the “President Duterte.” A candidate may promise one thing but the president, after studying the data, may realize it cannot be done, he added.

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  • philspratly

    well said. that’s why the previous economic managers said also . Good that past and present agree

  • Jose Samilin

    The solution to the SSS internal financial problem cannot come from within the organization. It should come from outside like the CPA’s external auditor and COA or other private entity with the financial management capability to conduct objective independent evaluation and review of its operations, the effectiveness or the luck of it of internal control system and procedures, complete or full financial audit, complete or full management audit, review and evaluation of all SSS existing LAWS laws and their implementing rules and regulation, whether these provisions of the laws pertinently essential or were established within the purview of the purpose and objectives of establishing SSS entity as mainly for providing social security benefits of all members.

    Management audit should include among other the objective and independent evaluation of its existing organization chart, whether it reflects the intended purpose and objective of the entity and optimum functional use of all the resources. There should also be an study t5o be conducted outside of SSS organization, like the review of other foreign Social Security system of other of other countries, the the United States, Canada, New Zealand, etc., to learn what is lucking in our social security system and why are these countries were successful in providing their peoples effective and substantial social security benefits.

    If we have made a substantial work in these areas of concerns, then and only then, that we could substantial basis of our solution to our internal SSS financial problems.

  • Richard Ochotorena

    SSS is a lost cause better dissolve that organization I worked there in Manila for 10 years and have contributed to that fund. Not only me many others like me did the same. Since then I have not used the money I contributed to that fund, so where did those money go? If it is like savings then it should gain interest then still they are the ones who gain from that. They better answer that.

  • Mike_Realism

    The SSS should overhaul theyre system. Too many loopholes that is not suited for the benefit of the members. I remember when my father was about to files some and yet some officer told my dad that somebody else used hes contribution? Really? Contributions should be gaining interest so that members can benefit from it and not the Govt. it is supposed to be for private individuals contributions. But apparently when money is the issue the Govt stick theyre noses unto it. Fire the high salaried officials that arent doing anything and let someone who truly knows how to run it lead it.