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Rough Cuts | What new alibi can the SSS have?

The state-run pension fund Social Security System (SSS) reported a net income of P15.3 billion for the first half of 2019. The amount is a 446 percent hike from the P2.8 billion net income of the first half of the year 2018.

The report published in the August 22, 2019 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its business page said the SSS attributed the increase to the implementation of Republic Act No. 11199 which allows the hike in the rate of SSS members’ monthly contribution to 12 percent of allowable salary credit.

Now, what other justification can the SSS think of in not releasing the second tranche of P1,000 of the P2,000 increase in monthly pension granted under the Duterte administration? The officials of the state-run pension agency keep on saying that it cannot afford to give the second P1,000 because it will dry up the resources of the SSS.

We find it extremely difficult to understand the pension agency executives proudly claiming of earning so much, yet suddenly getting cold tongues when asked about the release of the additional P1,000 hike in monthly pension to the country’s pensioners.

Imagine how fast was the SSS in implementing the collection of the additional monthly premiums from members when it was authorized by RA No. 11199 last year! And it is now salivating to collect the two additional 1 percentage point increases to the 12 percent authorized in 2018 when these become due in 2021, 2023, and in 2025.

We are certain that many of the pensioners who are supposed to be entitled to the additional P1,000 will not anymore be able to live that long waiting for the measly additional amount.
We hope the SSS executives are not praying for such eventuality.

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Newly installed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Manny Pinol was reported to have urged Mindanao farmers to export quality rice to Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Pinol’s proposition came in the wake of complaints of Filipino farmers that they are losing sales of their rice produce after the passage of the Rice Import and Export Liberalization Law. The law has allowed entry to the country of cheaper imported rice from other Asian countries more specifically from Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. This resulted in the preference of Filipino consumers to the imported rice instead of patronizing the local farm produce that costs much higher.

We strongly agree with the MinDA Chair in this plan. It is about time that we can go back to the time when the Philippines used to be rice exporter to such country as Vietnam and Thailand where we now import our rice.

But the catch here is that, according to Pinol, we have to make sure that the rice the country will export to Papua New Guinea must be of the premium quality.

Is the Philippines’ rice produce that high quality to meet the requirements of that PNG market? According to Pinol the Papuans have so much money in their pockets that they can afford to pay the price of premium rice.

According to the former Department of Agriculture secretary, he is looking forward to have Mindanaoan rice farmers to get first crack at rice exportation to PNG. We too, agree with the MinDA chair’s bias for Mindanao farmers. Other than improving the farmers’ income the export of the food staple to PNG will likely benefit local traders and possibly start a boat chartering business by either Mindanaoan or Papuan owners.

We hope that it will not take long for the MinDA to make good the plan. It is one good alternative source of better and sustainable income for the country’s rice farmers not just in Mindanao but also the farmers in the Visayas and Luzon.

Of course, first and foremost MinDA should make sure that the farmers and local millers should upgrade their facilities to be able to get the quality of the rice that would be exported.
Yes, with the new Papuan rich they could be discriminating in their taste for the food staple. Let’s cater to that.

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