Zamboanga City “Your pension funds are in very safe hands.” This is the assurance of Daniel L. Lacson Jr., of the Government Service Insurance System during the StakeholdersÂ´ Dialogue at the Garden Orchid Hotel Friday, that was attended by the pension fundÂ´s nearly 200 members, pensioners and local government executives who included Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, Isabela Mayor Cherry Akbar and Tabuan-Lasa Mayor Muktar Junaid from Basilan province.
Chairman Lacson was joined in the dialogue by President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara who presented the state of the pension fund and the various initiatives of the current leadership to “be more consultative, transparent, and member-focused”.
Lacson said that the current Board will focus on three areas toward these goals.
“First, we are revisiting previous policies that have been the subject of recurring complaints of our stakeholders; second, we are reviewing programs that have gone sour in the past such as our direct home lending program and the pre-need plans; and third, we started to re -channel our investments back to the local market because of the more conducive investment environment in the country compared to the foreign markets.”
For his part, Vergara cited the initiatives the new GSIS leadership has launched for the past year and a half to provide a more accessible and convenient service to its stakeholders:
- expanded partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines to include pensioners and active members;
- deployment of nearly 500 additional GWAPS (GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System) kiosks in key cities, clusters of municipalities and big government agencies such as the Education Department;
- cancellation of the annual renewal of active status (ARAS) for local pensioners; relaxing the entitlement qualifications for survivorship pension;
- payment of proportionate pension;
- empowering retirees to choose the repayment scheme for outstanding service loans under the Choice of Loan Amortization Schedule for Pensioners (CLASP);
- improving the terms of the emergency loan program by reducing the interest rate from 8% to 6%, removing the processing fee of 1% and extending the grace period for payment of amortization by three months to alleviate the plight of members adversely affected by calamities; and
- partnership with the Pag-IBIG Fund for a more efficient implementation of the direct home lending program.
Vergara said that the GSIS is making some headway on resolving the issue of mis- or unposting of membersÂ´ accounts.
“At the moment, 97 percent of members’ current remittances are now being posted accurately”.
He admitted however, that the backlog is still “quite sizeable” but assured the pension fund is doing everything to address the volume of inaccurate statements. These include the creation of nine separate task forces and the deployment of all resources to resolve this long-standing issue.
Vergara also said that GSIS is close to signing a Memorandum of Agreement among the GSIS, the Department of Budget and the Department of Education to settle the arrears of more than 587,000 personnel of the DepEd Head Office.
“We also hope to conclude within the month, a Memorandum of Understanding, with the Office of the ARMM Governor and DepEd-ARMM and other ARMM agencies, to update the service records of all ARMM personnel.”
In the next six months, the new GSIS will focus on the following:
- establishment of a 50-seater, 24/7 call center within the first semester this year;
- adoption of a one-stop shop set-up in all field offices;
- design of a new insurance policy with a bigger savings component;
- review of the premium-based policy; and
- review of pre-need funeral and educational plans
Vergara promised that the new GSIS “will not rest until we have regained our member’s trust and confidence and we will do it the only way we know how — one member at a time, one pensioner at a time and one day at a time.”