Difficulties arising from natural calamities that hit the country last year prompted some 524,000 members of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) to take out a total of P9 billion in emergency loans.
According to the GSIS, 390,000 of its members availed themselves of almost P7 billion, with each taking home P20,000.
At the same time, the SSS said it had disbursed at least P2.3 billion through a loan and pension relief package to about 134,000 members. These members live or work in areas declared in a state of calamity due to destructive typhoons.
The two state-run pension funds have taken steps to ease their members’ access to loans and benefits, such as improvements on record-keeping and processing of transactions as well as debt relief in terms of deferred payments and lowered interest rates.
In a statement, the GSIS said its upgraded and more reliable database and enhanced capabilities in using computer networks helped provide members with much-needed funds because it was able to process more loan applications.
The GSIS said that in the past few weeks, it had processed up to 50,000 applications a day for those affected by Typhoon “Pablo.”
This means an increase of almost thrice in volume from the 17,000 loan applications that the GSIS was able to handle in 2009 in the aftermath of Tropical Storm “Ondoy.”
“We are continuously updating (our) database to reflect the current premium and loan remittances of members, so that more can continuously avail themselves of their benefits and loan privileges such as the emergency loan,” the GSIS said.
Also, the fund for government workers is working with technology vendors and has formed task forces to address the inconsistencies in its members’ records.
With the use of technology such as the wireless, automated processing system—an ATM-like online equipment—the GSIS is able to remit loan proceeds to members’ accounts within three to five days from the filing of the application.
SSS fund releases
For its part, SSS president and chief executive Emilio de Quiros Jr. said 108,300 members applied for its salary loan early renewal program (SLERP), which was offered to members in calamity areas. This accounts for at least P2.1 billion in fund releases.
Aside from that, 25,500 retired SSS members applied for the advanced release of three months’ worth of pension. In total, these pensioners received some P180 million in 2012.
The SSS first offered the SLERP and the advance release of pensions in calamity areas early last year in the wake of Tropical Storm “Sendong,” which hit the country in December 2011.
The two schemes were implemented again when the “habagat,” or southwest monsoon, caused big floods in the middle of last year.
The SSS relief package also provides a two-percentage point cut in loan interest rates for members who need funds to repair their homes damaged by Pablo.
De Quiros reminded qualified SSS members that applications for the SLERP will be accepted up to March 31 while those for advance pension should be sent in by Jan. 31.
Applications for interest rate reduction under the SSS direct house repair and improvement loan program may be filed until the end of 2013.