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Do Not Meddle with Workers' Funds; Use SSS, GSIS Reserve Funds to Help Workers Brace for Job Losses - Maza
Press Release Posted on January 23rd, 2009.
REP. LIZA LARGOZA MAZA 0920-9134540
Francis Uyanguren (Public Information Officer) 0929-4511305
"Workers' funds and are not for the government to use, meddle with or subject to undue financial risks by investing them in vague concepts such as an economic stimulus fund that has no assurance of pumping up the economy for the benefit of our poor workers."Thus said Gabriela Women's Party Representative Liza Maza today as she joined PROFUND (Protect Our Fund) Convenors in demanding that economic stimulus package funds sourced from government financial institutions (GFI) such as the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration fund be used to instead to directly assist members and pensioners threatened by job losses.
"If GFIs like the SSS, OWWA and the GSIS do have these extra reserve funds, then these should instead be used to provide for emergency loans and assistance to workers threatened by job losses amid the global financial crisis," said Maza.
"This is a most appropriate response in the midst of job losses worldwide. The proposed economic stimulus package does not clearly indicate how it will address the plight of workers who have been laid off since late last year as well as the hundreds who could lose their jobs every day.
According to Maza, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque had admitted that the rate of lay offs and job losses is "not normal". From Dec. 1, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009, some 15,600 workers were laid off while 19,000 others had their shifts or working hours reduced. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said more than 3,000 Filipinos working in Taiwanese factories were laid off during the month of December. Labor officials in Taiwan said the number could rise to 6,000 by June.
The Gabriela solon suggested for reserve funds to be spent instead for additional benefits for members and pensioners, instead of infrastructure projects with no clear promise of lucrative returns. "This has been the experience of GSIS with its purchase of paintings and its global investment fund, the OWWA with its investments in the Smokey Mountain and Expo Filipino projects. In the end, it is the members and pensioners who lose their hard earned money and suffer the consequences."
Maza recounted that SSS President Romulo Neri had already committed 12.5B of SSS reserve funds into the economic stimulus plan. Neri had been summoned to the House of Representatives to clarify its contributions to the economic stimulus plan. #