Social Insurance in the Philippines: Responding to the Global Financial Crisis and Beyond

Type Working Paper - PIDS
Title Social Insurance in the Philippines: Responding to the Global Financial Crisis and Beyond
Issue 2009-23
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
This paper aims to review and assessed protection afforded by the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System, two out of the three agencies tasked with administering social insurance in the country. Like social security systems in other countries, the GSIS and SSS provides income support to government/ private sector employees and their families in times of contingencies like death, old age, sickness, and disability arising from work, and are financed out of the contribution of members and their employers. The GSIS and SSS are both mandatory, publicly managed, benefitdefined social insurance schemes with funding coming from members and their employers and investment income from reserves. Government guarantees the solvency of both systems and the levels of benefits prescribed. The coverage of the SSS and GSIS combined (28% of the total number of employed persons and 22% of total population who are at least 65 years old) is lower than the social security systems of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea but higher than that of Indonesia. However, the replacement rate (i.e., the value of the pension payment as a percentage of the earnings of members during their working life) is estimated to be about about 70% for the GSIS and 67% for the SSS in 2007, higher than those of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The growth of contributions to the GSIS lagged behind that of benefits payments in 2000-2007. Thus, the ratio of contributions to benefit payments declined continuously from 2.1 in 2000 to 1.3 in 2007. On the other hand, total the contribution of members to the SSS exceeds total benefit payments by about 2% in 2007, lower than the corresponding figure for GSIS but is a marked improvement from the situation in 1994-1995 and in 1999-2004 when the SSS was operating in the red and when SSS’s contribution-to-benefit ratios was less than unity. The turnaround in SSS’s contribution-to-benefit ratio in 2005-2007 was due to the increase in the mandated contribution from 8.4% in 2002 to 9.4% in 2003 and 10.4% in 2007. However, the contribution rate required to maintain the system in steady state equilibrium (i.e., in balance over the next 40 years) is estimated to be about 20%, almost double the current level in 2007. The global economic downturn will tend to reduce the stream of contributions to the social security system as a result of the increase in unemployment and the reduction in the level of earnings on which contributions are based. At the same time, there will be a temptation on the part of policy makers to use the pension funds to partially finance the fiscal stimulus package that has been drawn in response to the crisis. However, using the pension funds for the purpose of pump priming the domestic economy will likely not match the primary objective of the fund to protect old-age income of members.

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