PGMA asks SSS to extend condonation program
Quezon City (4 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed yesterday the Social Security System (SSS) to extend its housing loan condonation program by another six months and strongly pushed for the inclusion of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the roster of its more than 27 million members.
The President issued the directive during the 50th anniversary celebration of the agency this afternoon at its main office along East Avenue, Quezon City.
Among those who welcomed the President were SSS president Corazon dela Paz, SSS chairman Thelmo Cunanan, and former SSS administrator Jose Cuisia.
As part of the social payback of government reform programs, the President said the condonation of penalties and restructuring of housing loans has already benefited more than 6,000 SSS members.
"I ask Thelmo Cunanan and the SSS board to extend the condonation program, if possible, for another six months. This is social payback," the President said.
In the past several years, the SSS, together with other government revenue agencies, has implemented various reforms that resulted in higher collections, with the SSS providing more benefits and making sound investments.
Some six years ago, the President said the SSS was facing financial collapse with its actuarial life forecast at 2015.
As a result of the hard-fought economic reforms, the President said SSS assets now have ballooned to P248 billion and its investment income in the last six months alone has already reached P15.58 billion.
"New revenues, including increases in contributions for SSS, better collection and a crackdown on remittance cheats along with fiscal discipline has put the SSS and the Philippines on a path to permanent, sustainable economic growth and stability," she said.
Also as part of its anniversary present to the Filipino worker, the President said SSS also increased the members' pensions twice in the last 12 months -- 10 percent in September last year and another 10 percent last month.
The President also encouraged the SSS to expand its membership to include the mandatory coverage of OFWs, especially seafarers, the plan to amend its Charter, and institutionalize actuarial standards and formulas, among other proposals.
The President thanked the SSS for recently providing the P1 billion special window for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which, she said, are the biggest job generators in the country.
"Thanks to the SSS and other outstanding institutions, the rate of poverty is down, employment is up and our education and healthcare services to the poor vastly improved," she said.
The President also congratulated De La Paz for being the first Asian woman to head the International Social Security Association (ISSA), which is also celebrating its 80th year. (PIA) [top]