Senate OKs bicam report on SSS amendments
Reforms to programs and services of the Social Security Systems (SSS) are one step closer from enactment into law as the Senate ratified last Wednesday the bicameral conference committee report on the bill overhauling the SSS charter.
Voting unanimously, the Senate adopted the bicameral report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill 1753 and House Bill No. 2158 - the Senate and House versions of the "Social Security Act of 2018". The Senate version of the bill was earlier passed on third reading last October 8, 2018.
According to Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and author and sponsor of SBN 1753, the bill would repeal the 21-year old Social Security Law, or Republic Act 1161, as amended by Republic Act 8282 and expand the powers of the SSS to ensure the long-term viability of the said system.
"The bill is an enhancement of the previous laws; it ensures hope that the people would not be a burden to the country, that they are partners of the government not by way of exaction of taxes but by their contribution so that their welfare is assured," Gordon said.
Gordon said among the new powers and key reforms under SBN 1753 is the compulsory coverage of both land-based and sea-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to the SSS, "provided that they are not over 60 years of age."
He said that the move may help expand the number of OFWs with SSS coverage from 500,000 OFW members to two-and-a-half million members: "Even the Filipinos who became naturalized Americans and retired in the United States may be invited to invest in the provident fund."
The bill, Gordon added, would also give the SSS Commission the power to determine the salary credit and monthly contributions of members, which would now allow the commission to increase contributions "depending on the actuarial survey.
He said expanded powers are needed since it would allow the SSS management to increase the salary credit and contribution of employees "considering that at present it is only limited to PI6,000 which yields very little benefit."
The SSS would also be empowered to invest its Reserve Funds to "grow the wealth of SSS and ultimately yield higher income."
Gordon said these investments must satisfy requirements of liquidity, safety/security and yield "to ensure the actuarial solvency of the funds of the SSS."
"The SSS must be given a chance to do what they can for the people because the government could not base its policies on fear but on trusting the people, especially those with tremendous responsibility," he said.
"The bill does not promise an abundance of wealth but to secure people in case they would encounter unwanted situations in their lives through a lifeline that they themselves created through their contribution," he added. DMS