House probe on SSS eyed

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    THE House committee on public accounts will conduct an inquiry into the financial condition of the Social Security System (SSS) in the wake of the approval by the House of Representatives last week of a bill seeking to suspend an increase in the monthly contribution rate of the state-run pension fund.

    Probinsyano Ako party-list Rep. Jose “Bonito” Singson Jr. filed House Resolution No. 1563 calling for the congressional inquiry that will determine “weaknesses or excesses” in the social security program that require amendatory legislation.

    Singson said that when Congress passed Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, its purpose was to expand the powers and duties of the social insurance firm to ensure the long-term viability of the system.

    Among others, the law mandated the SSS to implement a contribution rate hike from the current 12 percent to 13 percent and issued the new schedule of contributions employers and employees effective Jan. 1, 2021. The rate hike is on hold.

    Singson pointed out that the devastating economic and public health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered strong public clamor for deferment of the member contribution adjustment.

    The SSS has said the deferment of the hike will adversely affect the financial health of the state-run firm and could affect the millions of its members.

    Previous years’ annual audit reports submitted to Congress by the Commission on Audit pointed to a number of adverse audit observations on the way the SSS has been managing the members’ contribution.

    In the 2019 Annual Financial Report for Government Corporations, COA disclosed that SSS is among the top income earners, registering 16.71 percent or P268.101 billion out of the total P1.604 trillion gross earnings of state owned- and -controlled corporations.

    COA, in its 2018 annual audit report for SSS, directed its management to improve the collection mechanism after noting that outstanding membership loans reached P78.95 billion over a four-year period.

    The following year, the state audit agency noted huge overpayments on loans to members, which have yet to be refunded.