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Palace: Give pensioners more benefits

Posted in Government, Government Employees, GSIS, Pensioners, PhilHealth, SSS, Wages and Pension by Erineus on February 3, 2009

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is urging state pension funds and health insurance and housing loan providers to increase benefits for their members to spur consumption and keep the economy going despite the world financial crisis.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto said the increased benefits, which could total P30 billion, would be part of the P330-billion economic resiliency package in the 2009 national budget.

Recto said the Social Security System (SSS), which handles private sector workers, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), which covers state workers, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), and the Pag-Ibig Fund for housing, had enough “investible funds,” or the difference between contributions and pay-outs, to allow an increase in benefits without affecting the agencies’ financial health.

“If you’re a senior citizen and you’re a pensioner of SSS, and we can afford to give an additional benefit, why not? Which will not destroy the actuarial [standing] of SSS for that limited period of time during this crisis,” Recto said.

“That will help spur consumption [and] demand also in the economy, which is good. That’s the point,” he said.

“We hope that the boards [of the agencies] can get to sit down and think…that it is only appropriate during this crisis that they can improve benefits to members even for a limited period of time, for the next 12 to 18 months at least,” Recto said.

The PhilHealth, Recto said, is eyeing a 20-percent increase in benefits, which would increase the amount members get when they fall sick to P9,000 from P7,500. He said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is “committed” to the increase and will take the matter up with the PhilHealth board.

Aside from the P30 billion in additional benefits, Recto said the P330-billion stimulus package also includes P160 billion from the 2009 national budget, P100 billion from the public-private sector infrastructure fund, and P40 billion from the reduced corporate income tax and increased exemptions for individual taxpayers, which the government expects will also spur consumption.

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 19:29:00 02/02/2009