SSS bonuses-A A +A
Saturday, October 12, 2013
THE public outcry over news that board members of the Social Security System (SSS) have claimed for themselves, at least P1 million bonus each for 2012, have sent the SSS as well as Malacañang, into overdrive to defend themselves.
The bonuses are legal, duly approved and cleared by the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and-Controlled Corporations (GCG). They are well within the limits of pension fund operating expenses. They were not sourced from member contributions but from revenues. Further, the bonuses are competitive with private sector rates alluding to regularity and not abuse of funds.
Aside from the board members, 90 percent of the employees of the SSS were also awarded bonuses of up to 2.5 percent of their monthly salaries totaling P276 million for 2012.
The GCG has said that the bonuses are aimed at improving the performance of SSS and at attracting top executives to work for government. According to SSS president and CEO Emilio S. de Quiros Jr., the concept of the bonuses is not to waste money but to encourage people to produce more.
No one, I believe, really objects to the awarding of bonuses. Everyone understands that hard work should be rewarded. Positive reinforcement is arguably the best management tool to harness efficiency and excellence in the workplace.
But two questions arise. First, are the bonuses deserved? The Commission on Audit’s (COA) 2012 report states that the slow processing and payment of death, disability and retirement claims by the SSS do not meet its commitment to provide prompt, convenient and meaningful social protection service to the members and their beneficiaries.
The COA report also states that SSS failed to take legal steps to collect P367 million in unpaid premiums from employers including 139 delinquent large-account employers. Further, COA reports that in 2011 alone, the SSS overcharged borrowers by more than P788 million.
In light of all these, did the SSS employees and board members deserve a performance bonus in 2012?
Second, are the bonuses justifiable? The pensions of retired senior citizens, by SSS officials’ own admission, fall below poverty line but SSS has refused to support proposed legislation to increase pensions on the grounds of insufficient funds
In the same breath that SSS touts investment acumen, citing P36 nillion in income for 2012, it announces a hike in member contributions of .6 percent beginning January 2014 to keep the SSS afloat. What gives?
If the SSS is performing so well to warrant bonuses for its employees and board members, why must member contributions be increased? Can’t the huge yearly revenues and savings be passed on to the fund so that the supposedly excellent performance of the SSS can directly impact its members who religiously pay monthly contributions?
The public seeks clarity on these issues.
Rather than the legality, it’s the propriety of the SSS bonuses that the public questions. Is it moral to award performance bonuses to a board that claims it must collect higher member contributions to keep the organization afloat?
In the midst of parrying public outcry with legalese, let’s not forget ethics and morality. Just because we CAN does not mean we SHOULD.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2013.