Mismanaged idle SSS assets justifies tax exemption, says BMP

MANILA, Philippines - MILITANT labor group stated that the recent disclosure by Commission on Audit (CoA) on the financial status of the Social Security System (SSS) in 2014 “adds justification” to their demands for a reduction of workers’ withholding taxes after it was found out that state pension fund had almost 18 billion pesos worth of idle assets.

Tax exemption

Among idle properties included in the report are 102 condominium units in seven condominium buildings, 44,000 square meters of store or office spaces, 16 houses and 169 parking slots.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) asserted that, “the CoA report and the behemoth real estate properties owned by the SSS only confirms what we have long alleged as early as 2013, our funds are being mismanaged besides the fact that it is also being plundered through self-rewarding bonuses by its Commissioners”.

The group accused both President Noynoy Aquino and SSS officials led by Emilio de Quiros of willfully misleading the pensioners by using scare-tactics into agreeing to shell out additional contributions.

Aquino reported in his 2013 SONA that the SSS funds would be totally extinguished by 2041 to justify a .6% increase in workers’ premium to the pension fund which he approved on September of the same year.

“Not only do we demand justice for deceiving the lowly wage-earners, the most tax-compliant sector but we firmly believe that Malacanang’s refusal to give in to our demands for tax exemptions no longer holds water,” declared Leody de Guzman, chairperson of BMP.

“For Aquino to continuously deny us of what we have already labored for coupled with outright excesses of its agencies illustrates the indifference of his Tuwid na Daan program to the plight of ordinary workers,” he added.

Malacanang claims that around 30 billion pesos shall be lost from its tax base if the proposed measures of Representative Quimbo and Senator Angara are enacted.

De Guzman declared that, “The government has deceitfully and incessantly bled us dry only to accommodate and offset the incentives it grants to foreign multinational corporations investing in the country. We demand nothing less of an abatement from an unjust and regressive taxation”.

The militants argued that a tax exemption would directly benefit the workers’ families and will ultimately spur development for it will increase their disposable income.

“Ours is a just and timely demand. With the CoA report out in the public, Aquino and his finance cluster can no longer stonewall our demands for it is by far more credible than all of them put together,” said the BMP leader.

The group is also waiting for news reports citing the status of other SSS investments in the mining, power, telecommunication and banking industries as well as its investments in the stock market.

The BMP and allied partylist group Sanlakas are now considering the filing of an injunction against the increase and anti-graft suits against the SSS Board and other government officials who approved the .6% contribution increase.

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