MANILA — Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Tuesday that he won’t recommend the use of taxpayers’ money to fund the proposed PHP2,000 pension hike of the Social Security System (SSS) pensioners.
“Historically, it is not being done. We don’t burden the taxpayers to support a private fund,” Diokno said in a press Palace press briefing.
“It is unfair for us to call on everybody to increase pension of a few. Our tax system is such that even the jobless, they pay taxes in the form of value added tax. Why should you burden them to give benefit to a private pension system,” he added.
Diokno said the job of looking for the source of PHP2,000 monthly pension increase should not be given to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“To me, it’s unfair to give the problem to him. In fact, it’s unfair for Congress to have passed that law which, as you know, (former) President (Benigno) Aquino vetoed,” Diokno said.
“It should not have reached the President’s desk. The Board of Trustees should have exercised leadership,” he added.
The DBM official said the SSS Board of Trustees can find solution to fund the proposed pension hike such as increase the collection efficiency.
“I understand some corporations have been indebted to SSS. Maybe they could call on them. But you know, when you pass the buck and give it to the President, that to me, is unfair for the President,” he explained.
He said another solution could be to adjust the contribution of the SSS members.
“What we are proposing is a contribution adjustment, a higher pay but we are not recommending it right now,” Diokno said.
“What we’re recommending is maybe to do it after tax reform because in the tax reform, you get more money in your pockets and therefore you are now in a position to contribute a small amount for the pension of those who are already receiving pension. So that’s our solution,” he added.
Diokno said even the late former President Ferdinand Marcos did not touch the SSS considering it is a private pension fund.
“You contribute to that fund, and when you retire, you get benefits from that fund,” he said.
Last Monday, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Andanar said President Duterte is looking for a “win-win solution” without affecting the SSS’ current fund life.
According to SSS chairman Amado Valdez, the SSS’s current fund life would be shortened from 2042 to 2031 if even half of the PHP2,000 will be given beginning January this year. PNA-northboundasia.com