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13, 2012

NR # 2830B

Lawmaker wants to scrutinize SSS P50 billion public-private partnership projects
A lawmaker today called for a congressional inquiry into the plan of the Social Security System (SSS) to invest some P50 billion in various public-private partnership (PPP) projects in the country. In House Resolution 2499, Rep. Rafael Mariano (Party-list, Anakpawis) urged the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to summon SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiroz and other officers of the agency to shed light on the matter. Mariano said SSS is ready to invest as much as P50 billion in the government’s public-private partnership program for infrastructure. “The SSS is considering PPP projects because they look into it as viable long-term investments. The agency is also eyeing to pour more funds into the local market with particular attention to power companies because of its potential in terms of good returns,” Mariano said. “The SSS is a government agency run by government appointees. However, the funds still belong to the members, which are mostly workers. While there is a need to make good returns on investments for continued service and benefits, it should still be cautious on the management of its member’s contributions,” Mariano stressed. Mariano said the SSS has announced that it will increase the members’ contribution rates to extend the life of the fund and provide leeway for the benefit enhancement. Mariano said the increase in contribution rate of members would be from the current 10.4 percent to 11 percent. “The hike in contribution rate would be equally shouldered by employers and employees. The increase is expected to be implemented this year,” Mariano said. “Aside from raising contribution rate, SSS also plans to increase the amount of the maximum monthly salary credit (MSC) ceiling ranging from P15,000 to P20,000, which is the basis for contribution payments,” Mariano added. Mariano said the SSS claims that the proposed structural changes such as raising the maximum monthly salary credit would translate to higher pension benefits, including a 10 percent across-the-board increase. The SSS said the increase in contribution rate and higher ceiling would lengthen SSS fund life from 2039 to 2046. Citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report in 2010, Mariano said COA cited a possible violation of Republic Act 8282 or the SSS act of 1997 and Guidelines for Social Security Funds, when SSS made a serious business risk when it sold its P62 million shares in the Manila Electric Corporation (Meralco). (30)