Date Posted: November 25, 2014
Lucena City. The Government Service Insurance System headed by President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara held a consultation in this city as part of its efforts to engage with and update its 1.8 million members and pensioners on the key service breakthroughs the System implemented for the past four years.
“At the outset of this administration, the new GSIS promised to be more consultative, transparent and member-focused to regain our members’ trust and confidence,” Vergara said.
Following a review of policies that were deemed unfriendly to the interests of members, the GSIS implemented key landmark policies for the greater benefit of its stakeholders.
“We restored the survivorship benefit for the survivors of deceased members who are receiving income or pension from other institutions. This benefit is an earned right and should not be taken away.”
Vergara said that the restored benefit is applied retroactively to 2009. “Surviving pensioners whose pensions were previously suspended or denied, had their accrued pensions restored and computed retroactively.”
Another landmark policy is the cancellation of the requirement for old-age and disability pensioners to personally appear in GSIS offices to renew their active status.
“Except for our pensioners based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and abroad, our old-age and disability pensioners need not come to our offices anymore to renew their status for the continued receipt of their monthly pension.”
GSIS instead partnered with the National Statistics Office that will now determine the status of pensioners to provide greater convenience for its over 300,000 old-age pensioners.
The pension fund also increased the minimum basic pension of more than 57,000 old-age and disability pensioners to Php5,000 in January 2013.
Vergara further said that the pension fund replaced the notorious Claims and Loans Interdependency Policy or CLIP, where the outstanding loan balances of retiring members were unilaterally deducted from their separation or retirement benefits.
“Under the Choice of Loan Amortization Schedule for Pensioners or CLASP, we are empowering our members by giving them a choice in settling their loan balances either in part or in whole through a restructured loan payable in equal installments over a period of three years.”
He added that members who are about to retire need not fear that their housing loan balance will be deducted from their retirement benefit as this can be settled through the Housing Loan Remedial and Restructuring Program. The program condones all unpaid penalties and surcharges and extends the payment terms. (-more-)
In July last year, GSIS also took the unprecedented step to lift the suspension of employees working in suspended agencies.
“We believe that it’s wrong for employees to suffer the consequence of their agencies’ failure to pay the premiums and loan amortizations of their employees, when these are mandatorily deducted from their salaries.”
Suspended agencies can now choose from any of three options to restore the loan privileges of their employees: pay their premium delinquencies in full; or restructure their arrears and commit to settling these through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with GSIS; or upon payment of at least 90% of any three consecutive months’ premium obligations beginning July 2013, sign an undertaking to enter into a MOA with GSIS for the settlement of its premium deficiencies.
As a result, from 315 suspended agencies in 2010, only a little over 100 agencies remain suspended covering nearly 5,000 employees.
Vergara informed the body that GSIS has become more efficient in posting and collecting members’ premiums and loan payments. “Overall, posting and collection efficiency for social insurance premiums is at 100% and 91% for loans.”
In terms of financial standing, the pension fund chief told the nearly 500 dialogue participants that GSIS remains financially solid with total assets of over Php800 billion as of September 2014. Revenue which includes members contributions and earnings from investment has reached Php120 billion.
“More importantly, the life of the fund is a healthy 34 years. This means that our members are assured that when they retire, GSIS will be there to pay their pension throughout the duration of their retired life.”
The pension fund continues to bring its services closer to its stakeholders by deploying nearly a thousand kiosks nationwide particularly, in provincial capitols, city and municipal offices, DepEd’s district offices and selected Robinsons’ malls.
“We also launched a contact center that our members and pensioners can reach 24 hours, seven days a week. Add to that our 56 service desks in remote areas that our members can visit twice a week for their GSIS concerns.”
Vergara said that the service innovations the GSIS implemented over the past four years has earned an “excellent” rating under the Anti-Red Tape Act-Report Card Survey administered in 2014 by the Civil Service Commission.
“From a failed rating in 2012, our customer service delivery performance improved to a “good” rating in 2013 and to an “excellent” rating this year.”
In closing, Vergara promised that the focus of GSIS will always be the interest of its members and pensioners.
“We will continue to regain our members’ trust and confidence, the only way we know how– one policy at a time, one member and pensioner at a time and one day at a time.”