The Social Security System (SSS) reached a net revenue of P18.69 billion in the first six months of 2012, higher by 42 percent than its P13.14 billion net income in the first half of 2011, due to higher earnings from contributions and investments that complemented its measures to ensure efficient spending.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. noted that steps to maximize branch resources and improve system efficiency helped slow down operating expenses to P3.57 billion, which was five percent less than P3.75 billion spent within the first half of last year.

“Our online and electronic inquiry facilities have helped free our branch personnel from attending to numerous over-the-counter queries, and instead focus more on attending to members’ claims. The enhanced SSS website, Text-SSS and the SSS Facebook page have allowed members to transact and inquire virtually, rather than coming to the branches personally for simple queries,” he noted.

The recent SSS reorganization also paved the way for branches to pursue more efficient coverage and collection activities, especially for priority and hard-to-reach sectors such as self-employed individuals and informal sector workers, de Quiros added.

The surplus of contribution collections over benefit payments, an important indicator of SSS’ financial health, stood at P3.93 billion for January to June 2012. In comparison, the gap between contributions and benefits from January to December last year amounted to P3.21 billion.

Benefit releases rose by four percent to P42.75 billion, with P21.71 billion paid out for retirement claims. The SSS also released P16.37 billion for death and funeral grants, P2.07 billion for maternity, P1.72 billion for disability and P880 million for sickness and medical services.

Contribution collections, which made up 72 percent of the P65.01 billion total revenues for the period, grew by nine percent to P46.68 billion, with P40.55 billion coming from premiums of regular employees.

SSS investments, the other source of the fund’s revenues, brought in a half-year income of P18.33 billion, up by 21 percent from P15.20 billion for the same period last year. About 58 percent of SSS’ investment income were from the equities market, making the state-run pension fund one of the major players in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), which has attained record-breaking levels over the past several months.

“We took advantage of stock market opportunities that helped boost our equity earnings by 48 percent to a six-month total of P10.54 billion. This includes P7.82 billion in realized gains from active trading, which was 85 percent higher than P4.23 billion in the first half of last year,” de Quiros noted. “The returns on our equity investments reached a remarkable 24.18 percent as of June 2012, which outperformed even the PSE Index at 15.8 percent, or ten-year bond rates at 5.6 percent.”

Other SSS investment earnings include P4.64 billion from government securities, P2.09 billion from salary loans and P440 million from corporate notes and bonds. SSS assets increased to P357.96 billion as of June 30, 2012 primarily due to the 12 percent growth in its investment portfolio. – Sigfredo Ibay