AlkanSSSya is a play on the Filipino word “alkansya” (piggy bank) and the triple-S for SSS as the implementing agency. The AlkanSSSya program was designed to fit the informal sector workers’ way of life and to make saving for monthly SSS premiums affordable. The AlkanSSSya is akin to a huge filing cabinet with around 160 individual boxes or coin slots that can be locked and in which the informal sector workers drop daily amounts in their designated slots. Once a month, the informal sector group (ISG) officers, with the guidance and monitoring of the assigned SSS account officers (AO), would open the individual boxes and count up the amounts saved. Once enough is collected for a month’s contribution, ISG officers fill up the SSS payment form, remit the payment to SSS through a third-party collecting agency or a bank.
Background and Problem
Recognizing the informal sector (IS) as an economic contributor and employment generator, SSS deemed it necessary to extend social security coverage to this sector. Increasing social security coverage among the informal sector became one of SSS’ priority programs. Attempts to cover the IS through simplified and affordable saving schemes through banks failed because participation was low. This could be attributed to the IS workers’ common fear of transacting with banks due to perceived formality and tediousness of the process.
Formal sector workers have employers who shoulder part of the SSS contributions and handle their remittance, while IS workers must shoulder both contribution and remittance. SSS addressed the IS aversion to formal banking transactions and reluctance to be absent from work just to transact. It also recognized the irregularity of IS workers’ incomes, particularly the periods with very low or no income, when their sustenance needs take precedence over social security contributions. In 2011, the SSS Las Piñas Branch developed a solution to cover and collect from self- employed members with irregular income, like tricycle drivers hired to ply passengers on routes that common passenger vehicles do not service.
Known as “TrikanSSSya”, it involved the monthly collection of social security contributions from tricycle drivers, who make deposits of Php10 to Php20 daily in a giant steel box installed at the tricycle terminal. TrikanSSSya expanded in 2012 to cover other IS workers who can join through their workers’ associations or ISGs and renamed “AlkanSSSya”, a play on the Filipino word alkansya (piggy bank) and the triple-S for SSS as the implementing agency.
Solution and Impact
AlkanSSSya program was designed to fit the IS workers’ way of life and to make saving for monthly SSS premiums affordable. The ISG members are registered as Self-Employed members and required to meet the Php3,000 monthly salary credit, which translates to a Php330 monthly contribution. IS workers can declare a higher monthly income than the required minimum, and contribute higher amounts for a higher monthly salary credit. The partnership between SSS and ISGs necessitates their officers’ learning new skills to ensure the smooth implementation of the coverage program. The ISG officers must gradually master the proper accounting of the collection, filling up of the payment form, and the remittance of accumulated contributions to the nearest SSS collecting agent. Aside from providing SSS-related service to their assigned employers, SSS AOs are also focused on meeting collection targets and ensuring employers’ compliance to the SS Law.
Since the mandate of expanding informal sector coverage was handed to AOS in the branches, this would necessitate a big change in their mindsets by also treating ISGs similar to corporate employers who have duties and obligations related to SSS. SSS AOs must sufficiently monitor their assigned ISGs for their continuing compliance to the program, especially the accurate accounting and remittance of the contributions collection. They must also ensure that the IS workers’ drive and enthusiasm for saving does not wane, thus, AOs must develop skills in motivation and persuasion. The AlkanSSSya program’s sustainability is premised on several factors: a fixed or continuing means of livelihood; an organization to handle the administrative tasks; and community support to successfully change the attitudes of members towards the act of saving, as part of their normal or daily obligation. SSS has provided the means for daily savings within the IS workers’ reach.
Peer pressure within the ISG can also influence members to fulfill their obligations. In extreme cases when the worker has more pressing needs and cannot meet the monthly target amount, the ISG can help fill the shortage by advancing the amount or sharing the needed amount among themselves, the embodiment of the Filipino concept of “Bayanihan” or community effort. Finally, the program can be sustained through synergy with local government units (LGUs) in helping organize ISGs, funding the fabrication of their AlkanSSSya units or helping the IS workers obtain identification documents needed for SSS registration.
Since the start of the AlkanSSSya Program up to end – April 2018, SSS has partnered with 1,421 different groups and has successfully registered 105,874 members. In terms of contributions, at least P685.12 million have been collected with a monthly average collection of P13.74 million. SSS was awarded by the Asean Social Security Association for the AlkanSSSya Program under the “Innovation Excellence” category in September 2015. Also, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) awarded the SSS under its “Moving Towards Inclusive Growth” with a Certificate of Merit with Special Mention during the ISSA Good Practice Awards for Asia and the Pacific in Oman last November 2015. In October 2017, the program was again recognized in the 2017 Government Best Practice Award given by the Development Academy of the Philippines.