THE SOCIAL Security System (SSS) collected more contributions from its members in the first quarter, boosting the pension fund’s revenues.
In a statement on Friday, the state-run firm reported its total collections from the contributions of its 15.4 million actively paying members stood at P42.57 billion in the first three months of 2018, up 7.64% from the P39.55 billion booked in the comparable year-ago period.
SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc attributed the year-on-year increase to the agency’s “aggressive collection drives.”
“There was a large volume of paying members in the first quarter of this year, majority of them are voluntary members. Combined with the implementation of the RTPC (Real-Time Posting of Contributions) since January 2018 which caused the immediate posting of collections in our system,” Mr. Dooc was quoted as saying in the statement.
Broken down, collections from the employed sector was the biggest contributor at P35.75 billion, followed by voluntary paying members at P4.78 billion and the self-employed sector at P2.04 billion.
Collections took the lion’s share of SSS’ total revenues of P49.72 billion in the first quarter.
This, as the pension fund’s investment and other income declined 22.5% to P7.16 billion in the quarter from P9.23 billion last year.
Mr. Dooc said market volatility, among others, was to blame for this drop.
“The Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) opened at 8,584 on the beginning of the first quarter and closed at 8,039 by end-March 2018 period. This represented a 7.04 percent drop or 604 points, which affected not only SSS but also other investors,” the SSS chief said.
“Also, SSS dividend income from invested companies for the period of January to March 2018 declined by 9.61 percent to P1.27 billion compared to the P1.41 billion in the same period last year,” Mr. Dooc added. “Our investment in government securities, which comprises majority of our investment power, performed well but was tapered by the fair value loss on government bonds.”
Mr. Dooc said the passage of proposed amendments to the Social Security Law of 1997 will allow the expansion of investment powers of the Social Security Commission, the policy-making body of SSS, and in turn boost the pension fund’s income.
Meanwhile, benefit payments went up to P46.22 billion in the first quarter due to a 3.85% jump in benefit payouts, SSS said. This was led by payouts for retirement which stood at P25.46 billion, followed by death benefit payouts at P13.70 billion, maternity benefit at P1.77 billion, disability benefit at P1.65 billion, funeral grant at P1 billion and sickness benefit at P649 million.
Still, the pension fund’s operating expenses declined to P1.98 billion from P2.18 billion in the previous year on the back of a 41.3% drop in maintenance costs and other operating expenses due to the hiring of temporary personnel.
SSS’ assets stood at P509.83 billion in the first quarter, growing by P4.96 billion on the back of the expansion of its investment level and cash equivalents.
Total investments of the pension fund, which comprise 91.4% of its assets, went up by P4.94 billion on the back of placements in Treasury bonds, time deposits, equities investments and new salary loans releases totalling P5.16 billion.
“I am hoping that the positive performance of the agency especially in increasing its collection will continue until the end of the year. More so, we have relaunched the Loan Restructuring Program last April 2018. So this will surely hasten collections from past due salary loans. Strengthened collection efforts will lead to higher collections,” Mr. Dooc said.
“I am confident that SSS will have enough funds to pay for current benefits and privileges of our members and pensioners.”