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‘Rice grant’ for SSS employees still good

/ 02:13 AM July 20, 2012

This is in reference to the article “SSS honeymoon ends” that appeared in the “Biz Buzz” corner of the July 11 issue of the Inquirer.

Please allow us to correct and clarify that it is not true that Social Security System president and CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. has cancelled the SSS employees’ “regular rice subsidies.”

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The fact is, instead of giving the “rice benefit” for the third quarter of 2012, a cash grant of P5,100 (which is equivalent to P1,700 per sack x 3 months) per SSS employee was recommended by the SSS’ Human Resource Management Division (HRMD). This was endorsed by De Quiros and subsequently approved by the Social Security Commission on July 11, 2012.

As a backgrounder, the Department of Budget and Management, in approving the 2012 Corporate Operating Budget of SSS, pegged the rice grant at P1,900/sack/employee/month. However, due to a rise in market prices, the purchase price of the rice grants in the first and second quarters of 2012 reached P2,028 (inclusive of all costs), which exceeded the DBM-set ceiling. Thus, in order to offset the difference between the purchase cost of the rice grants in two previous quarters and the DBM-approved budget, the HRMD decided to adjust the cost of the rice grant to P1,700/sack/employee/month, but only for the third quarter of 2012.

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However, a canvass of rice prices in Metro Manila stores found that no vendor would sell at that price and at the specifications set by the SSS. In fact, the minimum price was P1,950/sack.

Given the difference between the prevailing market prices and the SSS budget of P1,700/sack, the HRMD decided that going through the usual bidding process using the same specifications with a budget of P1,700/sack would most likely result in a failed bidding. The remaining option, therefore, was to provide the rice grant in cash, instead of in kind, in the amount of P1,700/sack but only for the third quarter of 2012, so that the employees can already purchase their rice requirements.

This was the recommendation of the vice president for HRMD, which was endorsed by De Quiros to the Social Security Commission, for consideration and approval. All SSS employees were informed of this development through advisories, the first one released on June 29, 2012, and the second on July 12, 2012.

Thus, there is no truth to the report that De Quiros has cancelled the employees’ rice grant. There was only a change in the form of the rice grant—and that change is only for the third quarter.

—MARISSU G. BUGANTE,

vice president,

Public Affairs and

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Special Events Division,

Social Security System

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TAGS: letters, rice grant, SSS
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