Date Posted: January 30, 2015
Malaybalay City. State pension fund Government Service Insurance System President and General Manager Robert Vergara visited this city, the first time a top official did so in many years, to inform the pension fund’s over 18,000 members and 3,000 pensioners in Bukidnon province, on the new policies and programs that GSIS has implemented in the last four years.
“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 perceived to be unfriendly to the interests of members, GSIS implemented key reforms 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 58,000 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.”
In July last year, GSIS also lifted the suspension of employees working in suspended agencies, an unprecedented step taken by the current GSIS Management and Board of Trustees.
“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 91 agencies remain suspended as of the third week of January 2015.
Vergara informed the body that GSIS has become more efficient in posting and collecting members’ premiums and loan payments, “from 83% in 2010 to 95% in 2014.”
The pension fund chief said that GSIS has never been more stable financially. Total assets in 2014 (unaudited figures) reached over Php910 billion. Revenue which includes members contributions and earnings from investment amounted to more than Php153 billion.
“More importantly, the life of the fund is a healthy 34 years, an assurance that GSIS will be there to pay our members’ 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 58 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. The survey rates agency performance and client satisfaction in relation to frontline service delivery.
“From a “failed” rating in 2012, our customer service delivery performance improved 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.”