Rep. Gonzalez slams monopolistic pension fund

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

GOVERNMENT employees can secede from the Government Service Insurance Service (GSIS) which is under fire for delayed remittance of pensions and other problems.

Iloilo City Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez Jr. said he will help public employees who want to break away from GSIS and form their own insurance group that will cater to their needs.

Gonzalez broached this proposal in his letter to the Iloilo City Council which requested the congressman to initiate a congressional inquiry into the inability of GSIS to serve the needs of its members.

Gonzalez believes that GSIS’ monopolistic nature is the cause of its woes.

“I believe that GSIS is inefficient because it is a monopoly. The long-term solution to this problem is to break up its stranglehold on our civil servants by opening up the market to other players,” Gonzalez said in his letter dated October 13, 2009.

The congressman said the 500,000-strong public school teachers, which is 30% of government employees, can break away from the state pension fund and form their own insurance firm.

“The same is true with our uniformed personnel; if our soldiers and policemen want to secede from GSIS, I would lend them my support,” Gonzalez added.

Gonzalez said he already House Resolution No. 1049 last March 2009 which called for an inquiry on the computerization program of the GSIS and purported “glitch” in its system which resulted in poor service to its members.

The investigation focused on why GSIS’ computer system provided by IBM Corp. crashed which delayed the updating of members’ contributions and the retirees’ pensions.

On May 11, 2009, the resolution was referred to the House committee on government enterprises and privatization chaired by Rep. Felix Alfelor Jr. of Camarines Sur.

Alfelor has conducted several hearings which were attended by GSIS and IBM officials and cause-oriented groups such as Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees.

Gonzalez said the committee has yet to come up with its report on the investigation.

The Iloilo City congressman said GSIS only offered short-term solutions such as fine-tuning its software and resolving the kinks in its computer system.

“During our last hearing, the two parties (GSIS and IBM) pledged to work double-time and gave verbal assurances that the current problems will be solved by December 2009 to January 2010,” Gonzalez said.

Several GSIS members have filed complaints against the state-pension fund for delayed pensions and other problems.

The Visyas Ombudsman also asked the GSIS to explain and resolve the delayed remittance of retirees’ pensions.