Once more it’s December, the month of Christmas and New Year’s Eve and the most appropriate time to review our annual performance and highlight our most outstanding achievements, including minor successes.
Like private sector executives, President Digong’s six-month-old Cabinet members will have to go through a similar exercise before yearend especially after he has issued his executive order on freedom of information in the executive branch of government.
They have to report their accomplishments during their first six months in office. From these reports, the President would have to select the outstanding few that he could present to us —maybe informally on his first Christmas and New Year’s Day message—but formally during his Second State-of-the-Nation Address on July 24, 2017.
We will concede that his officials have performed spectacularly in waging his war against drug users, pushers, dealers, narco politicians and drug lords. How else could we describe its five-month results of 2,000 killed and 800,000 who surrendered?
His critics insist, of course, that these were limited victories against illegal drug violators who were mostly poor folk and ordinary citizens. Besides, its success is yet to be established as a long-lasting solution and only time could tell if this bloody war against illegal drugs was any better than burning in summer dry cogon grass that regrows in the first drop of rain.
By the end of 2016, President Digong’s senior officials must also report their performance in areas outside of improving law and order conditions.
Unavoidably, they would have to refer to his much-publicized 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
Lest we forget, they are summarized as –
1. Continue and maintain current macroeconomic policies, including fiscal, monetary, and trade policies.
2. Institute progressive tax reform and more effective tax collection, indexing taxes to inflation.
3. Increase competitiveness and the ease of doing business.
4. Accelerate annual infrastructure spending to account for 5 percent of GDP.
5. Promote rural and value chain development toward increasing agricultural and rural enterprise productivity and rural tourism.
6. Ensure security of land tenure to encourage investments, and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies.
7. Invest in human capital development, including health and education systems, and match skills and training.
8. Promote science, technology, and the creative arts.
9. Improve social protection programs, including the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program.
10. Strengthen implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.
Was every key result area assigned to at least one Cabinet member?
His Cabinet members have publicized this 10-point socioeconomic agenda and we thus expect that they’ll relate their performance to a specific point in the agenda—KRA—in clear and measurable terms.
Sadly, we pensioners of the Social Security System feel ignored in the formulation of these 10 KRAs when the P2,000-pension increase was only presumed part of improving social protection programs.
Obviously, it is what we and our dependents have been clamoring for, and loudly. President Digong’s new SSS officials should now enable its grant. They should stop analyzing and explaining why it would soon bankrupt the agency and thus could not be granted.
We have had enough analyses, alibis, explanations, and promises from their predecessors.
Besides, did he not promise to give it to us immediately upon election as president?
We still remember him declaring before that “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
We also know that this is logically equivalent to saying that “there’s no way if there’s no will.”
So far, President Digong’s new SSS officials have not shown any will to increase pensions.
Its Chairman’s counter offer of granting P1,000 in January 2017 and another P1,000 in 2022 would also lead to the immediate bankruptcy of SSS. This “two-gives” increase would only delay its bankruptcy by perhaps five years, but its cash flow problems will manifest soon and force it to liquefy its investments in government securities, stocks and properties. Its members would be made to prepay their salary loans.
It would create a crisis in government, which must bail out SSS much sooner than the year of its bankruptcy.
What SSS needs to do is increase gradually its contribution rate from 11 percent to 21 percent and its monthly salary ceiling for contributions from P16,000 to P100,000 over the next 20 years, making sure that cash flows never become negative at any time.
But this would displease big business employers, and thus the new SSS chairman has opted for other plans.
He announced last Nov. 21 that he was “pushing for changes in the SSS charter … that would provide the pension fund greater investment flexibility to bolster its generation of needed revenues for granting higher benefits.”
This amused us but we started to worry when he also announced that “all toll roads, the financing of those, 25 to 35 percent should come from the pension fund” and that “this will be a priority legislation we want to fight for.”
SSS would soon be submitting its performance report for 2016. For sure, it would not include the grant of the P2,000-pension increase. Instead, it would be full of dazzling, risky and controversial investment plans.