Gov’t offers protection to social security contributors

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Issue 952, Page 3
Word count: 467
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The bill to revise the social security system will make sure the SAR government will continue to pay beneficiaries their pensions if the Social Security Fund (FSS) failed.

The Third Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly met with the government representatives yesterday to discuss the bill.

Committee president Cheang Chi Keong said both the government and the lawmakers agreed that the “principle of sustainability” must have to be clearly indicated in the proposal.

An actuarial report presented by the government last month suggested it is necessary to increase residents’ monthly contributions by at least 33 patacas to the FSS, and the government funding by three percent annually, in order to ensure the FSS’ long-term operations after the double-tier social security system fully comes into effect.

The FSS’ main source of income consists of contributions from employers and employees totalling at 45 patacas a month, as well as the SAR government’s annual injection which reached 1.3 billion patacas in 2009.

As of December 31, 2008, the FSS had a total asset of 3.801 billion patacas. The actuarial report estimated that this value should come to 4.767 billion patacas at the end of 2009.

The report forecasts that if contributions and government funding did not increase, the assets of FSS will be completely run out in 2036.

Therefore, Cheang said adequate contributions will be required or otherwise beneficiaries will not be able to receive pensions that they deserve after 2039 from the FSS.

In order to avoid residents and contributors’ concerns, Cheang said it is agreed that a sentence will be added to the bill, regarding the Macau government’s liabilities that if in case the FSS in the future failed to give out age pensions, disability pensions or unemployment allowance amongst others, the SAR government will be the one to pay the beneficiaries in full.

Cheang said that contributors did not need to worry about whether the Macau government would go bankrupt as like the governments in some countries, adding the FSS would be able to maintain its operations as long as the contributions and money injection from the government could be raised to a certain level.

On the other hand, the committee president told reporters both the government and the Legislative Assembly acknowledged the importance of this bill as it involves “a lot of people who are currently excluded from the FSS, especially the elderly who are hoping that they will be eligible to receive pensions under the new social security system”.

Cheang said that the legal advisors of the legislature will continue to work on the final work report bit by bit after each meeting and more frequent meetings will be scheduled in order to accelerate the progress of the deliberation.

The committee and the government representatives will meet again at 3.30pm this Thursday at the Assembly.

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