AFTER the mess that comes in the wake of the vetoed bill that aimed to raise SSS pensions by P2,000 per pensioner, it is quite clear that legislative work in this Congress has been quite sloppy, that the SSS itself has not bothered to successfully engage with legislators and present its side or come up with a compromise and that the Executive Department either did not see what would hit it, or decided they did not care.
It is beyond belief that no committee hearings took place to discuss this attempt at large scale largesse to at least figure out if the SSS as an institution could manage it without careening towards bankruptcy. It seems that the legislators did not only not discuss the finances or where they would be sourced from among themselves, they did not consult the SSS officials regarding it all. At least to hear the official stand of the SSS and understand the reasons why. And on the other hand, the SSS seems to have remained passive or paralyzed as the law was swiftly passed without their putting up a stand, an explanation or a compromise to make it viable.
In other words, in a very surreal way this bill was crafted and actually passed in both houses of the legislature with no concern or mind about the financial repercussions, just as though money was growing on trees to be picked at whim. The idea was to spend without figuring out where the revenue would come from. It sure reminds us of the erstwhile congressman who filed a bill to outlaw typhoons flying in the face of Nature’s reality.
Meanwhile, the authors raised expectations among the public. Who would turn down a P2,000 increase in a monthly pension? It is as of now a law in fantasy as it has been proved that there were no attempts as to how or why or any perspective of the future of pension funds and pensioners to come in its wake .
All of these evolving events are singularly mindless and heedless of both the present circumstances and the future reality that they will soon come face to face with to the detriment of nation-building, institution-strengthening and common sense. It is shooting yourself in the foot.
Meanwhile, dashed hopes which were needlessly cultivated by legislators running for re-election are now raising anger levels at the Administration with the usual scapegoat being one person and that would be the President.
But this is not to exculpate the SSS either for their executives’ sloppy and ineffective collection of obligatory dues or their planning for their future which obviously has to contend with higher dues if one plans higher pensions. Actually, they should be initiating higher pensions in the rational way by advocating higher dues or suggesting a raise that they could adequately afford. The lowest pension of P1,200 is a disgrace. No, they just went through their usual routine including the paying of high bonuses, per diems and other allowances to themselves.
For that matter, there ought to be a law that government corporate officials not be allowed a feeding trough of government funds for their being its managers. If the rationale is that these officials are handling large sums that will make large profits (through investments) it is time to remind them that taxpayers’ money is for the taxpayer ‘s benefit and not for the tax collector. Excuse me but any Tom, Dick and Harry who has common sense, a modicum of patriotic service and the opportunity of handling large sums, can automatically make a large profit from the sheer size of the funds under their management.
It does not take genius, creativity or unusual business sense just being there and using some professional consultants on investment. Therefore, those large bonuses based on those large profits are overdoing it. They should be happy with their 13th month pay, their already high salaries and their other government corporate perks.
Now with this mess everyone’s attention is called back to their large bonuses which again are the object of public anger. How can someone on the SSS Board knowing that they give out pensions as low as P1,200 a month blithely accept that with nary a thought of the millions for himself that SSS members have contributed to the fund against that fact?
So, we are all angry – the pensioners who are disappointed, the public that perceives the legislators to have been remiss and self-serving (for the votes they will reap as they attempt to distribute largesse that is not legitimately available) and the taxpayer that sees how extravagantly his money is wasted on government officials in lucrative posts by special privilege. It is time to re-think the government corporation bonuses and better yet, get more patriotic people on board these corporations as well as elect better legislators.