When do bonuses become excessive?
The president and CEO of the Social Security System along with his board of directors must be asking themselves this question, following the public outcry over the P1 million bonuses they granted themselves last year, but which became known only recently.
Emilio de Quiros Jr. justified the hefty perk as a “performance bonus” that the SSS management had earned following their supposed excellent performance last year. De Quiros added that it was not only the top brass of the pension fund who received bonuses. In fact, all the employees of the SSS did.
Of course the million peso bonus was only for the CEO and the seven members of the board. What the employees got was a mere pittance in comparison.
The SSS is the pension fund of private sector employees that is administered by the government. Its board members are appointees, who may or may not be deserving of the post. It is not unknown for newly-elected Philippine presidents to appoint their cronies to the post as a political favor.
De Quiros may or may not be a competent administrator. This is not the question. What is most bothersome is that bereft of checks and balances, he and his board deigned it proper to reward themselves for a job well done. In fact, they did no such thing.
They justified the bonuses after members’ contributions had been increased. Naturally, it would appear that the increased revenue was a sign of their fine performance. Such is not the case, however.
A hefty bonus may have been justified had they increased the probable life span of the fund that they are administering without necessarily raising the members’ contributions. The Tagalog phrase for what De Quiros and company did was “ginigisa sa sariling mantika,” or frying them in their own fat.
Using their own flawed logic, by raising the members’ contributions by a certain percentage, De Quiros and his board earned for themselves a million peso bonus each, plus whatever perks they already have. What is to stop them from increasing the members’ contributions every year, and by bigger amounts?
This year, they can double the previous increase and grant themselves P2 million bonuses. They can then triple that hike next year and get even fatter bonuses of what, P4 million or P5 million each?
Incidentally, the latest increase was dunned on SSS members because without it, the funds would have dried up by 2039, or a mere 26 years from now. This means that a young man or woman who joins the private sector workforce today can contribute to the SSS until he or she approaches 50, only to discover that early or even late retirement is not an option because the System’s funds have been dissipated.
Part of that lost money would have gone to the likes of De Quiros and his board who considered themselves deserving of big bonuses during their time.
De Quiros and his board seem to be suffering from the mindset of many who join government service, and who believe that they should get as much as they can while in power. If high executive perks is what they are after, they should have just stayed in the private sector. Leave government service to the true public servants who are willing to accept less pay because they realize that their work entails serving the people and not bleeding them dry.