TEN BUSINESS and labor groups are urging President Rodrigo R. Duterte to immediately order the deferment of the hike in social security contributions to help businesses still struggling amid the pandemic.

“(We) are constrained to write the President for urgent action on this pending request for the deferment. We have yet to fully re-open and many have already lost their income sources either permanently or temporarily,” the groups said in a Sept. 27 letter addressed to Mr. Duterte. A copy of the letter was given to the media.

The letter was signed by leaders of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP), Federation of Free Workers, Makati Business Club, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, Management Association of the Philippines, and Partido Manggagawa.

Mr. Duterte in May signed Republic Act No. 11548 authorizing him to defer the scheduled increase in Social Security System (SSS) premium contributions, which the business and workers groups said sent a positive signal to employees and employers preventing further losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the executive order (EO) implementing the law has not yet been issued by Malacañang.

The groups said the SSS is also waiting for the EO before it suspends the scheduled SSS premium hike to 13% from the previous 12% of member salaries that took effect in January.

They said postponing the SSS premium increase would be critical to economic recovery as it would help sustain cash flow among small businesses.

“It will also serve as a very concrete government contribution to the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) program that is implemented with private sector,” the business groups said.

Several of the same groups had previously asked the National Government for more representation at the working group level of the employment recovery plan, which they said would establish cohesive public-private collaboration.

The Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) also waived penalties for companies that were not able to remit employee savings within the past two years after a request from PCCI, Philexport, and ECoP, which said industries need help to recover from the effects of the pandemic. — Jenina P. Ibañez