House to probe SSS bonuses
MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives will look into what militant lawmakers have described as "unconscionable" bonuses officials of the Social Security System (SSS) have given themselves and their personnel.
The inquiry was prompted by Resolution 369, which Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list group have introduced.
The committee on good government, chaired by Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, will conduct the inquiry.
In their resolution, the two Bayan Muna representatives questioned why members of the SSS board of trustees have gifted themselves with P1 million each in bonuses and given P276 million to SSS employees.
They said the decision to give bonuses was taken even as SSS is set to increase the amount of premium it collects from millions of members.
The lawmakers said while SSS officials claim the system does not have enough funds for retirement and other benefits beyond the year 2039, they have appropriated for themselves and their personnel nearly P300 million in bonuses.
Colmenares reminded SSS trustees, who include a former labor secretary, that funds of the system are contributed by millions of private sector workers, and that it is these salaried employees who are paying for the bonuses and salaries of SSS officials and personnel.
“Trustees gave themselves P1 million each. The lowest-paid pensioner receives only P2,000. Aren’t those trustees ashamed of what they did?” Zarate asked.
The congressmen pointed out that trustees are not supposed to make so much and should not liken themselves to members of the board of directors of a big private corporation earning as much as SSS.
Aside from annual bonuses, SSS board members reportedly receive from P30,000 to P50,000 per board or committee meeting.
Colmenares and Zarate also said the present state of SSS finances does not justify the increase in members’ premium contributions.
The pension fund had assets and investments amounting to P345 billion in 2010, and an annual income of P21 billion to P23 billion, they said.
It has collectibles amounting to P8.5 billion, which SSS trustees should collect first before even planning any premium increase, they said.
Clearly, there is no justification for any increase in members’ monthly contributions, they stressed.
They pointed out that SSS should instead strive to adjust the minimum pension of retirees.
Bayan Muna has been proposing a minimum monthly pension of P7,000.