Philippine News Item

SSS, GSIS, PhilHealth expected to run budget deficits this year

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PHILSTAR

THE two state pension funds and the public health insurer are expected to incur budget deficits until at least 2021, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Citing estimates from the Finance department, the DBM reported the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) need to fill a combined budget hole of P84.84 billion this year, equivalent to 0.4% of gross domestic product.

The three organizations, which are government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), generated combined surpluses of P54 billion in 2019 and P63.25 billion in 2018.

The three GOCCs are also expected to post deficits next year, but narrower ones totalling P1.787 billion. No breakdown was provided.

Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa S. Habitan said deficits are expected this year due to the “expected drop in the cash position” of SSS and PhilHeath.

“For SSS, this is a result of emergency measures to respond to the rise in unemployment because of COVID and increase in unemployment benefits. Maternity benefits will also increase because of the implementation of the Expanded Maternity Leave Law,” Ms. Habitan said in a text message Monday.

Unemployment surged to 17.7% in April at the height of the lockdown.

She added that PhilHealth’s cash position will decline because of “substantial benefit payments” for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related cases.

PhilHealth has said it will fall into deficit by year’s end because of lower contributions and additional payouts due to the coronavirus pandemic. It said it will remain in deficit until 2024.

“The situation is forecasted to improve in 2021 with economic recovery leading to higher employment generation that will improve the finances of SSS,” she said.

The national government subsidizes GOCCs to cover operational expenses not supported by their revenue.

Under the proposed P4.506-trillion budget for next year, the SSS and GSIS were not due to receive any subsidies from the national government, but PhilHealth has a P71.353-billion allocation, up 6%. — Beatrice M. Laforga



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