Friday, July 31, 2009

Bayanihan spirit: The Sibalom way

I took this video in July 2008, a few weeks after the onslaught of Typhoon Frank. Barangay officials of the 76 barangays of Sibalom, Antique took turns in piling up sand bags along the bank of Sibalom river that served as temporary break water.

One year hence, it seems the rehabilitation of Sibalom river has not yet become a priority in the immediate rehabilitation works of the government. An inquiry from the DPWH revealed that the Sibalom project is in the list of the P5.876 B "Bangon Panay" project or the so-called Paglaum Fund. The money is be sourced from the proceeds of the Simplified Net Income Taxation System (SNITS) bill pending with the Senate Ways and Means Committee chaired by Sen. Lacson.

Meanwhile, Sibalom residents with the help of municipal and barangays officials have to fend for themselves, mustering their own resources to mitigate the damage every time the water level rises along the river bank.

I hope the President get to visit the area soon just as she did last Monday here in Iloilo where she ordered the release of an additional P100 M to augment the initial P481 M for the rehabilitation efforts in Panay.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Still on the National government's debt to GSIS.

This is an addendum to my post yesterday regarding the debt that the DepEd owes the GSIS representing arrears in premium on the insurance coverage of teachers and other personnel.

Practically, the entire bureaucracy including LGUs have incurred prior years' obligation with the GSIS since 1997. How did these obligations came about? In the case of national government agencies (I'll make a post on the case of LGUs later)- that "utang" was attributed to the 2.5% increase in the national government share in the premium rate from 9.5% to 12.5% starting July 1997 to December 1998. The premium deficiency was not paid because the appropriations in the GAA during the said period for the Retirement and Life Insurance Premium (RLIP) of state employees were computed at the rate of 9.5% only.

The reconciliation as to the actual amount of deficiency went on for several years. When the figures were finally established, the mode of settlement became another issue. The first option was for the DOF to issue a fixed rate treasury bond in favor of the GSIS. A MOA to that effect was executed between the DOF and DBM representing the national government, and the GSIS. For undisclosed reasons, the settlement did not push through. The second option which also did not materialize was for the national government to turn over to the GSIS a governmnent-owned property in exchange for the writing off of the debt. On the third settlement attempt, Congress agreed to appropriate the amount of P3,299,791,000 as part of the supplemental appropriation for 2006 through RA 9358 (the national government then was operating on a reenacted budget).

Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2007-1 signed by GSIS President Winston Garcia and DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya, Jr., was issued to implement the said appropriation. In gist, the joint circular prescribes that:

1) The DBM shall release the appropriated amount of P3,299,791,000 to the GSIS as payment of the deficiency in government share on the premium contribution from July 1997 to December 1998. The GSIS shall apply said payment on the principal amount only, not on any interest that it has imposed thereon;

2) The DBM shall post in its website the amount of increase in RLIP per agency as computed by the GSIS;

3) The GSIS shall post to the individual account of the GSIS retirees and members the said payment. Any interest imposed by the GSIS shall not be charged against the retiree/member but shall be subject to separate discussion by the DBM and GSIS;

4) The GSIS shall pay the members the amount pertaining to the adjustment in retirement benefits and basic monthly pension as well as refund the full amount deducted from the active members whose matured policies and salary/policy loans were reduced.

The issue of the settlement of the RLIP deficiency (principal amount) should be put to rest, that is, if the GSIS has fully complied with its commitment as drawn in the joint circular. But the matter of the interest imposed by the GSIS that it insists should be paid by the national government, is left hanging as negotiation between the former and the DBM has not been finalized yet.

Since this is a government to government negotiation, why can't the GSIS condone the said interest charges? The HDMF (PagIBIG) has resorted to this time and again.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thinking aloud, but disturb: the DepEd debt to GSIS.

The perenial problem on the unremitted GSIS premium contributions of DepEd has again resurfaced. ran this story on this debt which already balloned per GSIS estimates, to P21.3 B. Said debt consisted of unpaid insurance premiums of P7.39 B and corresponding interest charges of P13.9 billion for the period July 1997 to December 2007.

DepEd has refuted the claim saying that the figures were incorrect. And so the impasse remains to the detriment of DepEd personnel most specially, the teachers who have consequently bore the brunt of deductions from their salary loans including those who have already retired, in which case, the proceeds of their retirement benefits have likewise been emasculated.

The story did not mention whether there was partial settlement of the disputed debt. But I supposed this was in part paid off (at least insofar as the unpaid premiums are concerned) by the P3.299 B which the DBM has remitted to the GSIS in 2007. As can be recalled, in year 2006, Congress appropriated through a supplemental budget (RA 9358), the said amount to cover the deficiency in premium contributions (principal only) from July 1991 to December 1998. The penalties (interests and surcharges) will be settled separately between the DBM and the GSIS.