SSS collected P2.17B from OFWs in 2011By Ronnel W. Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Social Security System collected a total of P2.17 billion in contributions from overseas Filipino workers in 2011, 17 percent more than the P1.85 billion received in 2010.
The increase was attributed to increased efforts by SSS to get overseas-based Filipinos to join or be more active in the pension fund.
SSS president and chief executive Emilio de Quiros Jr. said in a statement that the agency plans to reach out to more OFWs through additional foreign offices and expansion of e-payment and online services.
“The SSS posted a double-digit growth in OFW collection for the third straight year,” de Quiros said. “It reflects the growing awareness among overseas workers of the importance of active SSS membership and saving for retirement and other contingencies.”
The SSS has over 738,000 OFW members, a number that the fund wants to raise through tie-ups with key agencies that handle the deployment of migrant workers such as the Department of Labor and Employment and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
“OFWs are usually excluded from social protection programs in their country of employment, even if many of them work in high-risk environments and are considered family breadwinners,” de Quiros said.
Also, the SSS is working on bilateral social security agreements with counterparts in Australia, China, Cyprus, Germany and Sweden.
De Quiros said SSS wrapped up negotiations with authorities in Denmark and Portugal in 2011, and is preparing for initial talks with officials in Japan this year.
“By forging bilateral agreements, we also help overseas Filipinos become entitled to social security benefits comparable to those received by citizens of their host countries,” he said.
Earlier, de Quiros said that the SSS plans to expand its call center operation to provide round-the-clock services to all its members, but especially to OFWs.
He said the SSS call center operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the pension fund wants to enable its members to reach the agency beyond office hours, particularly those living in different time zones.
The SSS chief is also studying the feasibility of opening within this year five to 10 new domestic branches as well as one each in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The SSS also launched a “member-get-member” promo, through which it is offering “a trip back home” as well as cash prizes to active OFW-members who can nominate and get new members to sign up.