SSO Rejects Move on Autonomy

SSO Rejects Move on AutonomySSO Rejects Move on Autonomy

The Social Security Organization (SSO) cannot be made independent of the government, said Seyed Taghi Nourbakhsh, head of the SSO, on the occasion of Social Security Week (July 11-17).

Referring to a letter written and signed by 40 lawmakers calling for granting autonomy to the SSO, he said, “Implementation of social security insurance programs needs to be guaranteed by the government. If the role of the government is done away with, who then will be responsible for ‘profit and loss’ of the SSO insurance fund? Therefore, such a move is unacceptable,” he said, quoted by ISNA.

Elaborating on construction workers’ insurance, he said as per the law, 15% of construction taxes collected by the municipalities should be allocated to the SSO to provide insurance to construction workers. “Last year (ended March 20) we received only $191 million, while we spent $411 million to cover 800,000 workers; in other words we spent more than what we received from the municipalities.”

He also said in the first three months of the previous year, 200,000 workers were covered by insurance and hoped that with the implementation of the government’s directive to raise SSO’s share of taxes from 15% to 20%, “we will be able to provide insurance coverage for more workers.”

“Unfortunately, there are discrepancies in municipal records and municipalities are not providing accurate information on the number of construction licenses issued; therefore they pay us less than what they should actually pay.”

 Huge Debt

Nourbakhsh also pointed to the government’s debt to the SSO. “In 2005, the government debt was $1.2 billion which increased to $17.6 billion in 2013. The reason for this huge amount was the new commitments made by the government, an increase from 3 items on the agenda to 23 items.

This year (started March 21), the government debt has declined by $4.6 billion, which reflects the special attention to social security; however the remaining amount accounts for 25% of the SSO’s total annual budget. If paid, it would have a significant impact on providing quality services to the people.

He also said several real and legal persons owe $1.7 billion to the SSO. “Although we can take legal action to recover the amount, we don’t want to put pressure as it may lead to closure of production lines and workers’ unemployment.”

He pointed to the government’s approval for the bill to increase paid maternity leave from six to nine months. “We are still not ready to implement the plan as it will cost $100 million” he said, and hoped the required funding would be considered in the next year’s budget bill.