House ratifies bicam report on bill giving President power to suspend SSS hikes

THE House of Representatives ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed measure authorizing the President to suspend increases in the contribution rates of the Social Security System (SSS).

During the session on Thursday, legislators approved the bicameral report on the disagreeing provisions of House Bill 8512 and Senate Bill 2027, in an effort to address the public health crisis.

The measure will allow the chief executive to suspend the implementation of increases in premium rates during national emergencies “when public interest so requires”. He may seek consultation from the secretaries of the Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Finance (DoF), who are ex-officio chairmen of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and SSS, respectively.

“We believe that empowering the President to suspend the scheduled increases is the most prudent action we can take to give our people much needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, one of the principal authors, said.

The bill will amend the existing Social Security Act of 2018, which mandates an increase in the contributions of SSS members to ensure long-term viability for the state-run pension fund. As of this year, premium rates for private sector workers are up by 13 percent per month.

The Senate ratified the same report on Wednesday.