Concerns over State Insurance Fund's sustainability after pension benefits hike

MANILA, Philippines – A labor group raised concerns on the sustainability of the State Insurance Fund (SIF), after President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order raising the pension benefits of disabled workers.

In a statement on Saturday, May 12, labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa welcomed the increase in benefits under  Executive Order No 54  but asked that the actuarial studies on the insurance fund be made public.

"We are, however, concerned about the sustainability of the State Insurance Fund. We have never seen the results of the actuarial studies cited in EO 54 as this matter was never discussed in the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (NTIPC)," Sentro vice chair Daniel Edralin said.

"While the additional benefits did not come with any increase in premiums at this time, there is no assurance that EO 54 would not lead to a shortening in the longevity and viability of the SIF," Edralin  added.

Sentro also noted that it is not the first time an increase in welfare benefits is used for a politician's gain.

"It should be noted that this is not the first time that politicians have used increases in welfare benefits to earn brownie points among the workers, who later end up paying additional premiums," Edralin said.

On Thursday, May 10, Duterte signed EO 54 providing a P1,150 across-the-board increase for all pensioners with permanent disability, a montly survivorship pension, carer's allowances, and higher reimbursement rates for physician fees.

According to the EO, the results of the actuarial studies of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) showed that the SIF can finance the increases without affecting their stability and without requiring additional contributions.

However, the government has not yet released the actuarial studies to the public.

The administration of President Benigno Aquino III  thumbed down a P2,000-pension increase owing to questions over the sustainability of insurance funds.

In 2017, Duterte approved a P1,000-SSS pension hike after a long debate on the increase, to fulfill a campaign promise.–

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.