GSIS to continue investing in public, private infrastructure

THE Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is looking to continue investing in state and private infrastructure projects through loans and equities, its new chief said.

GSIS President and General Manager Jose Arnulfo “Wick” A. Veloso told reporters in a briefing on Friday that the GSIS wants to invest in projects to contribute to nation building and economic growth while growing their funds.

“Public sector or private sector, we will look at it. What’s important is the safety of our members’ money and the return that these investments would yield,” Mr. Veloso said in Filipino during the briefing held at its Pasay headquarters. “We want to ramp up our funds while helping the country.”

“We need to be at the table for all discussions relating to infrastructure, specifically as the government pushes for infrastructure as part of the President’s agenda,” he added.

The GSIS chief said the agency will consider investing in projects related to telecommunications, food security, electricity, power, digital infrastructure, medical services, transport, and housing.

They will invest by offering loans or buying shares to help fund these infrastructure projects.

Mr. Veloso said the GSIS also plans pursue joint ventures with the private sector regarding its 65 big-ticket real estate properties, as opposed to selling them outright.

GSIS Executive Vice President for Support Services Sector Dionisio C. Ebdane, Jr. said the state-run pension fund can invest P104 billion in equities and infrastructure. Out of the cap, it has invested only P35 billion, with P16.8 billion going to the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure (PINAI).

PINAI is a private equity fund partly financed by the Asian Development Bank and managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, which will wind down in 2024.

Mr. Ebdane said GSIS has seen good returns from the fund.

The GSIS expanded its investment portfolio by 5.22% to P890.59 billion in 2021 from P846.4 billion in 2020. The pension fund invests in infrastructure assets, and peso- and foreign-currency denominated instruments like cash, equities, time deposits and fixed income assets.

It booked a net income of P595.8 billion in 2021, a turnaround from the net loss worth P94.2 billion it posted the year prior.

The government wants its spending on infrastructure to reach at least 5% of gross domestic product during the six-year term of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.

CALAMITY FUND

Meanwhile, Mr. Veloso said a P5.4-billion calamity fund can be tapped by 5,733 GSIS members and 2,503 pensioners in Abra after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the province on Wednesday.

“GSIS members who have existing emergency loan balance may borrow up to P40,000 to pay off their previous emergency loan balance and still receive a maximum net amount of P20,000. Those without existing emergency loan may apply for P20,000. Pensioners may likewise apply for a P20,000 loan,” the GSIS said.

An emergency loan is payable in three years and entails a 6% interest. — D.G.C. Robles