DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental — Building on the strength of its campaign to reach out to more workers around the country, the Social Security System (SSS) attained a nine percent increase in contribution collections from members in Visayas and Mindanao (Vis-Min) in 2013, for a year-end total of P18.7 billion.

May Catherine Ciriaco, SSS Vice President for Management Services and Planning, said the P15.7 billion remitted by employee-members – or workers employed by private businesses and households – reflected an eight percent increase from P14.5 billion in 2012 and accounted for over 80 percent of the Vis-Min total.

“Also noteworthy is the eight percent jump in contributions from self-employed and voluntary members in Vis-Min. It rose to P3.0 billion last year, from P2.8 billion in 2012, with the help of SSS initiatives to cover more informal sector workers, such as the continuing nationwide expansion of the AlkanSSSya Program,” Ciriaco added.

Coined after the Filipino term for “piggy bank,” the AlkanSSSya Program is designed to make active SSS membership convenient and affordable for informal sector workers, who are often daunted by the idea of setting aside money for monthly contributions given their meager incomes.

The AlkanSSSya Program makes it more feasible for informal sector workers to save up for the minimum monthly contribution of P330 by breaking it down to about P12 per day. This microsavings scheme also addresses their problems with remitting contributions to an SSS payment facility, since their respective associations will take care of it at the end of each month.

About 19,400 members from 193 informal sector groups (ISGs) across Vis-Min have joined the AlkanSSSya Program by the end of first quarter this year. Of which, the SSS Central and Western Visayas Divisions each have 44 participating ISGs, while the SSS Southern Mindanao Division has 61 IGSs, or more than half of the Mindanao total.

Senior SSS officials, led by President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr., are now in Dumaguete City as part of SSS’ regular Regional Visits to meet and update stakeholders on SSS developments and gather direct feedback on SSS programs.

The state-run pension fund has nearly 8.5 million members in Vis-Min who are served by 52 SSS branches as well as nine Service Offices (SOs) in malls and 12 SOs in non-mall locations such as municipal and city halls. Ciriaco advised members that for simple SSS transactions or information requests, the mall-based SOs are less crowded and more convenient to visit, especially since these are open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mall-based SOs in Visayas include Robinsons Fuente Cebu, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Robinsons Place Iloilo, Robinsons Place Dumaguete and Robinsons Place Roxas, while those catering to Mindanao members are located in Robinsons Cagayan de Oro, Robinsons Place Gen San, KCC Mall – Gen San and NCC Mall Davao.

“In line with our thrust to make SSS services more accessible to members, we plan to open six new branches in Vis-Min within the year. These will be located at Ayala Center Cebu; Talisay, Cebu and Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, as well as additional branches in major Vis-Min economic centers such as Bacolod, Iloilo and Davao,” Ciriaco added.