SSS ‘gambles’ P350B pork from workers’ pension funds in biz ventures – EILER

Aside from spending on hefty bonuses for its executives, the Social Security System (SSS) is also “gambling” workers’ contributions as equity investments in business ventures of the country’s tycoons, according to a labor think tank.

Quezon City-based Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said that the SSS’ P350-billion investment reserve fund as of 2012, which is discretionary in nature, should be rechanneled to workers’ benefits, instead of using to finance speculative activities which only benefit big businesses.

The huge investment reserve fund is spent based on the discretion of SSS board of directors.

“The P350 billion SSS reserve fund is a huge sum that could have been used to upgrade the benefits being provided by the government to workers. Such huge fund also proves that the planned SSS premium hike is unnecessary and unjust,” EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa said.

“Even if there are immense earnings from SSS investments, this does not translate to greater pension coverage and better benefits for workers. The sole benefactors of SSS profits are the corporate stockholders and SSS executives who reward themselves with multi-million bonuses,” Escresa added.

The labor research group noted that SSS under Emilio de Quiros has significant equity investments in Philex Mining Corporation (20.58 percent), in Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co., First Holdings Corp., Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Union Bank, among others. SSS also channels at least P105 billion of pension funds, or 30 percent of the investment reserve fund, to the stock market.

SSS’ income from its corporate investments amounted to P18 billion during the first half of the year. No clear accounting has been made so far on SSS’ numerous investments and investment incomes.

“What is clear right now is that SSS investments only benefit the big businesses and the SSS executives which reward themselves a P1-million bonus each for their pro-business job, instead of supporting social protection programs for workers who are the main contributors to the SSS fund,” Escresa said.

“Workers are the ones who should benefit from it, not the SSS executives and the board members of big firms who are currently pigging out on gigantic bonuses and dividends,” Escresa concluded.

The research group said it is planning to ask Congress to probe the P350 SSS investment reserve funds.  

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