THERE’S a Pilipino phrase for Malacañang’s reasons why President BS Aquino The Last vetoed the bill seeking a P2K hike in the monthly pension of retired Social Security System (SSS) members:
“Kung gusto, may paraan. Kung ayaw, maraming dahilan.”
What’s more galling is that Malacañang foisted a very noble reason (statesmanship) for a heartless decision. There’s nothing statesmanlike in ignoring the welfare of formerly highly productive persons who are nearing the sunset of their life.
Defenders of the faith are correct in saying the number of pensioners, now estimated at 2.1 million, will increase thru the years but it’s wrong in using the present number of SSS members (31 million) in computing future contributions. Why, won’t there be more members in the coming years?
I also can’t understand the defeatist attitude of Malacañang and SSS execs on funding the pension hike. In 2013, Emilio de Quiros Sr., SSS president and CEO, justified their gargantuan perks by boasting that the P290-billion investment reserve fund in 2010 had increased to P390 billion. That’s about P33 billion more a year. Now, they say the reserve fund will be depleted in 2029!
There’s also the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) that claims SSS revenues from members’ contributions and income from investments amount to P160B a year, bigger than the projected annual payout of P56B for a pension hike.
Based on EILER’s study, collections continued to outpace benefit payments, yielding a contribution surplus of P11.6B in 2013.
Ah, sure, this “president-statesman,” in an afterthought, considered giving retirees an insulting P500-a-month increase in their pension. Well, he can shove the P500 up his ___. He should be reminded that the pension fund is mainly financed by workers and employers with no government counterpart or subsidy.
Manila judge, fiscal give hope
Speaking of pensions, my wife Fidelina (Lynn) bought a pension plan from a pre-need company. When the plan matured, a trusted individual, Marina R. Sagun of Barangay San Juan, Cainta, Rizal, convinced her to lend her the money so it could earn more than if left idle in a bank. That was about three years ago. Lynn got paid with bouncing checks.
Lynn, a cancer survivor (acinic cell carcinoma), had hoped the pension would aid her as she grows older but Sagun’s refusal to pay her loan had made her despondent and fearful of her future. Lately, her spirits were lifted when the criminal and civil cases she had filed against Sagun seemed nearing resolution at the sala of Judge Ihmie Michiko Gacad-Presto of the Metropolitan Trial Court Manila Branch 5, with Maria Cielo Rubi Galicia as prosecutor.
Telstra entry not as advertised?
Many telecom subscribers were initially excited at the entry of Australian firm Telstra, reportedly in partnership with San Miguel Corp. After all, Telstra has been touted as the solution to the expensive and slow Internet services in the country.
Well, they may now have to temper their excitement for it looks like Telstra will be spending more to build its infrastructure in the country than anticipated, which means it will be charging customers more to recoup its investments.
An Australian think-tank, Creator Tech Pty Ltd., says building the 4G network in the Philippines will cost Telstra about three times more than the planned $1.4-B investment.
Reports received by this corner quoted Creator Tech’s Steve Mackay as saying the value of SMC’s spectrum alone could reach as much as $2.78B.
“Thus, spectrum cost alone could wipe out the $1.4 billion that Telstra has in its war chest,” Mackay was quoted as saying.
Definitely, Telstra will pass on the higher cost to subscribers so there goes our hopes for cheaper Internet services. It’s not that Telstra’s high charges are completely unknown. The same data seen by this corner noted consumers’ complaints in Australia for hiking charges for international data over the holidays much more than those charged in other countries, and for charging more for plans than what was advertised.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Global Peering company Cloudfare says that Cloudfare peers with other ISPs in the region “except Telstra” which charges “some of the highest transit pricing in the world – 20X the global benchmark.”
“If Australians wonder why Internet and many other services are more expensive in their country than anywhere in the world, they need only look to Telstra,” Prince said.
The Philippines needs more investments and Telstra is most welcome to invest here.
However, we must not expect that it alone could improve mobile communications in the country.