Bicam OKs Bill Strengthening State Pension Fund

The Social Security System (SSS) announced in a statement on Tuesday that senators and congressmen comprising the bicameral conference committee approved the bill seeking to amend the 21-year-old charter of the state-run pension fund.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc expressed his gratitude to the bicameral conference committeem which has approved and adopted the almost unchanged Senate Bill (SB) No. 1753 or the Social Security Act of 2018. “I am thankful to the Senate and the House of Representatives contingents for their leadership, and for sponsoring and shepherding this bill. Hopefully, this will be signed by the President and become a law,” Dooc added.

The bicameral conference committee meeting for the consolidation of SB 1753 and House Bill No. 2158 was attended by senators Richard Gordon, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon and Win Gatchalian, and representatives Prospero Pichay and Mark Go. The meeting was held immediately a day after the Senate version of the bill was approved on third and final reading on Oct. 8, with 20-0-0 votes in the upper chamber.

One of the salient features of SB 1753 is the rationalization of powers of the Social Security Commission, the policy-making body of the SSS, allowing it to expand the investing capacity of the pension fund that will generate better income for the benefit of its members and pensioners.

It also aims to strengthen the pension fund through the implementation of the gradual increase in monthly contributions from the current 11 percent to an additional of 1 percentage point, starting on the year of implementation until it reaches 15 percent in 2025, and the gradual adjustment of the minimum and maximum monthly salary credit.

Further, the bill, once enacted into law, will ensure the social security of the growing number of Filipinos outside the country as it provides for the mandatory SSS coverage of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). “Right now, despite the huge number of OFWs — some say there are about 10 million of them at present — we only cover about 550,000 of them. So this law will mandatorily cover all the OFWs to ensure their social security protection,” Dooc said.

Among the features of the bicam-approved version is the inclusion of the unemployment insurance for SSS members who will be involuntarily displaced.

“Under the proposed measure, displaced workers will get a financial assistance from SSS in the form of cash equivalent to half of their average monthly salary credit for two months,” Dooc said. He, however, reminded that there will be qualifications to become entitled to this benefit.

Gordon, the principal author of SB 1753 earlier mentioned that the bill, if enacted into law, will expand, protect and grow the fund so there will be pension for all when the time of their retirement comes. (SSS PR)

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