Research group IBON criticized the Aquino government for its continuous defense of the President’s veto of the proposed Social Security System (SSS) pension hike. Its refusal to increase support for ordinary pensioners while institutionalizing the allocation of public funds to guarantee corporate profits bares the Aquino government’s bias for business on top of people’s welfare, the group said.
Malacanang and the SSS argued that granting the pension hike amounting to Php56 billion would prematurely deplete SSS funds. According to the hike’s proponents, however, improving collection efficiency, more prudent spending and suspension of executives’ tall bonuses are only among the many ways to solve government’s stated predicament. Advocates also revealed that there are SSS reserve funds amounting to more than Php420 billion that can more than cover the hike.
IBON said that government should explain why it would not find means to support the pension fund while it has already allocated billions in its commitment to public-private partnerships (PPP), which guarantee profits for big business.
The group recalled, for instance, that the Aquino government has agreed to shoulder P34.9 billion or 54% of the total project cost of the LRT1 PPP deal with the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium. The Ayala-Pangilinan group also enjoys real property tax exemptions reportedly costing Php64 billion. Further, the 2016 national budget retains the Php30-billion risk management program which protects private profits against the likes of disallowed fare hikes or partners’ liabilities/ non-performance.
Government should strategically embark on raising resources for subsidizing socioeconomic investments such as SSS pensions. For a start, government can institute a progressive tax system that taxes the wealthy and large corporations more. With this, SSS benefits can be expanded and its coverage increased to support majority of Filipinos who are severely lacking basic income security, said IBON.