DESPITE earlier pronouncements of pushing for a member contribution hike by 2018, the Social Security System (SSS) said this would be its last resort to compensate for the P1,000 increase in monthly pensions.

“The contribution increase is our last option,” Social Security Commission (SSC) Chairman Amado D. Valdez said in a statement yesterday.

Instead of the planned increase in contributions, the SSS chair said the agency will sell its assets to compensate for losses due to the pension hike.

“We are looking at various income-generating schemes including disposal of sub-optimal properties to maximize revenues from these real estate properties,” Mr. Valdez said. “We are trying our best to find ways to generate income for the pension fund.”

He maintained that the SSS will keep possible contribution rate increases at a “minimum amount” if ever it pushes through.

The contributions, planned to be increased by 1.5% to 12.5% of the monthly salary credit, was initially slated to be implemented in May, as it was made a condition to the first tranche of the P2,000 pension hike approved by the President in January.

However, an Executive Order (EO) is required to implement the contribution increase. Ever since, no EO was signed.

Economic managers earlier recommended a 17% rate in order for the SSS to keep its fiscal position and the fund’s actuarial life stable.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc earlier said that he aims to have the monthly member contribution implemented by 2018, as he sees Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Law, amended before the end of the year.

Once enacted, the SSS will be able to implement the contribution hike without getting permission from the President.

“One of the major provisions of the proposal is the rationalization of the powers, duties and accountabilities of the Social Security Commission (SSC). With the rationalized powers, it will make it easier for the SSC to diversify SSS investments to generate and boost earnings of the pension fund, and to further improve the benefits being disbursed to its members,” the statement read.

With the charter amendments, the SSS can also extend the fund’s life from the current 2042 to 2051, according to Mr. Dooc.

Moreover, the law will also adjust the member salary credit ceiling to P30,000 by 2022.

Aside from the higher contributions, SSS will have a wider base of members as the revised SSS law will mandate overseas Filipino workers to become contributors. — E.J.C. Tubayan