A measure seeking to overhaul the Social Security System's (SSS) charter has been transmitted to Malacañang early this week for the President's signature.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and author and sponsor of Senate Bill 1753, said once signed into law, both land-based and sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) would be covered, "provided that they are not over 60 years of age."
Earlier, SSS president and chief executive officer Emmanuel Dooc said the enrolled bill, signed by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has yet to be transmitted to the Office of the President for signing.
Dooc said the bill is expected to generate P16 billion in premium collections in a year.
He said the adjustments would be able to help extend the fund life of the SSS.
The bill would repeal the 21-year old Social Security Law, or Republic Act 1161, as amended by Republic Act 8282 and expand the powers of the SSS to ensure the long-term viability of the said system.
In particular, the amendment aims to empower the Social Security System Commission to increase benefits, condone penalties, and rationalize investments, among others.
The bill would ensure the mandatory SSS coverage for overseas Filipino workers.
Gordon said the move may help expand the number of OFWs with SSS coverage from 500,000 OFW members to two-and-a-half million members.
It also provides unemployment insurance for SSS members who will be displaced involuntarily.
One of the main provisions of the bill seeks to increase the contribution of SSS members by one percentage point every other year starting 2019 until the current rate of 11 percent rises to 15 percent by 2025. It would also adjust the minimum and maximum salary credit of members.
The measure would also give the SSS Commission the power to determine the salary credit and monthly contributions of members, which would now allow the commission to increase contributions "depending on the actuarial survey."
Gordon said the expanded powers are needed since it would allow the SSS management to increase the salary credit and contribution of employees "considering that at present it is only limited to P16,000 which yields very little benefit."
At the same time, the SSS would also be empowered to invest its Reserve Funds to "grow the wealth of SSS and ultimately yield higher income."
"The SSS must be given a chance to do what they can for the people because the government could not base its policies on fear but on trusting the people, especially those with tremendous responsibility," he said.
Congress approved the bicameral report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill 1753 and House Bill No. 2158 last month. The Senate version of the bill was earlier passed on third and final reading last October 8, 2018.