SSS targets informal sector for universal protection

Published November 16, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Chino S. Leyco

State-run Social Security System (SSS) vowed to beef up its campaign in reaching out to informal sector following an Australian-based survey ranking the Philippines as one of the pension systems that need improvement.

In a statement, Aurora C. Ignacio, SSS president and chief executive admitted that providing a “meaningful social protection” for a large number of workers in the informal economy is among the challenges they have right now.

Based on the latest International Labor Organization’s survey, the Philippines’ informal workers such as farmers, fisherfolks, market vendors, and alike stood at 21.1 million, equivalent to 56 percent of the labor force from 2008 to 2017.

But SSS data showed that members registered under its program for the informal sector, dubbed as AlkanSSSya, only stands at 108,779 at end-September this year.

Likewise, 44,093 members were registered through the Cooperative Accreditation Program and 230,069 members were covered as job order personnel of the government offices.

For many years, Ignacio said the pension fund has been reaching out to the informal workers and have been encouraging them to pay their SSS which is the cheapest and most accessible retirement savings today.

But Ignacio said their varied work arrangements and at times, intermittent income, prevent them from regularly paying SSS premiums.

“A challenge for us now is to create a special pension fund program for informal sector workers like farmers, fisherfolks, among other groups, considering their income spread. These are the areas that SSS will look into,” Ignacio said.

She added that the Mercer Global Pension Index which included the Philippines in its 11th global survey on pension systems puts social security protection at the forefront of social issues today.

“Many Filipinos see social security protection as just an option during their working years, neglecting the fact that this will be one of their supplemental supports during retirement,” Ignacio said.

The Philippines, based on the index, was rated 43.7 out of 100. It has a grade “D” together with first world countries Korea, China, and Japan among others.

The Philippine pension system was described with some desirable features but also with major weaknesses that need to be addressed.