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Winston cites GSIS gains to defend self

 

THE Government Service Insurance System president, Winston Garcia, on Wednesday harked on his accomplishments at the pension fund to defend himself from charges of corruption and mismanagement during a Senate inquiry.

At the hearing of the Senate Committees on Government Corporations and on Public Enterprises, Garcia blamed the syndicates in the pension fund for the attacks against him.

He said the reforms he carried out in the GSIS hurt these groups because it upset their operations, specifically the $8-million rein­surance system.



Garcia admitted that around P40 billion in uncollected loans and premiums were lost owing to inefficient database. Out of the P40 billion, P25 billion of which constitutes loans in arrears.

Before the GSIS was computerized, there were 2.7 million members on its list but after computerizing, the list was reduced to 1.3 million members, Garcia said.

He said “ghost” and fake borrowers who never paid their premiums received benefits after retiring.

“Because of the inefficiency in the system and database, there are syndicates and racketeers in the GSIS who were able to process loans and benefits of fictitious members by merely using certifications from concerned heads of agencies,” Garcia said.

“That’s why we have adopted a policy of retaining more premiums and reinsuring less,” Garcia said.

The implementation of the e-Card, which the GSIS begun distributing to 1.5 million members, increased the agency’s underwriting income, from P450 million to P500 million before 2001 to P1.8 billion last year.

But the E-Card was opposed by the racketeering groups.

“These policies are understandably unpopular to those who profited heftily from our old inefficient and unreliable systems,” Garcia said.

He cited how the season of attacks against him starts whenever the GSIS allowed the reinsurgence of Napocor’s plants and other properties, the metro rail transits, airports and other properties in Subic and Clark.

“These people want the GSIS to reinsure more properties so that they get the underwriting fees,” Garcia said.

He vowed to complete the GSIS database by 95 percent at the end of the year.

Ferdinand Gaite, president of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees who also attended the hearing, urged the GSIS to fix the problem where deductions continue to increase, depleting the meager salaries of government employees.

Gaite said it is not the workers who fail to remit their contributions to the GSIS but the government agencies they work for.

“The government employers have been remiss in their duties. We are mere employees who are being deducted, 90 percent ay kami ang naawasan at hindi yung ahensya. The burden is placed on the employees,” Gaite said.

A similar hearing in the House, Garcia’s representative, GSIS Vice President Enriqueta Disuanco, said that despite allegations of corruption and fund diversions in the pension fund, the agency carried out major reforms that resulted in efficiency and profitability.

The Committee on Government Enterprises chaired by Rep. Eladio Jala of Bohol began its investigation on several resolutions filed by lawmakers seeking to assess the financial condition of the GSIS.

In a letter he sent to the House committee, Garcia said he would be willing to face his accusers who had filed a case against him and other officials of the pension fund before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Presidential Antigraft Commission.

Disuanco said the GSIS recorded and reconstituted agency transactions covering the period from 1997 to the present for all its 30,000 remitting agencies into the accounts management system.

“As a result, we are now able to implement the premium-based policy under which the benefits that are being given to members are matched with the premiums paid and remitted to the pension fund,” Disuanco noted.
— Patricia Esteves and Maricel Cruz

 

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