Manila, Philippines — Government must allow government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to continue their “missionary” services despite being in financial disarray.
“Missionary GOCCs can be placed in a state-sponsored ‘Intensive Care Unit (ICU)’ as they perform their tasks and while economic doctors are thinking of a better cure,” Senator Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said yesterday as he urged government to support the GOCCs’ social undertakings.
Recto said that some of these state-owned firms were bestowed the unique mandate of delivering basic services to the people, adding that not all them are there to make money but were chartered to make the lives of the people a little better.
He pointed out that those GOCCs undertaking “missionary” services must be allowed to thrive despite incurring losses while the government ponders on better and long-range alternatives.
But, he quickly added that “fat cats” in these missionary GOCCs must shed their indecent bonuses and perks “to reduce the national guilt of exempting them from the purge.”
“I may have to agree, with reservations of course, that among these ‘necessary evils’ are the National Food Authority (NFA), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and even the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA),” he said.
Recto said NFA plays a key role in stabilizing food supply such as rice, the NEA engages in energizing far-flung villages only reached by “petromax” while LWUA delivers water services to areas where big business would not dare to thread.
He said the Philippine Postal Corp. (Philpost), which delivers snail-mail for our Internet-resistant population, should be allowed to continue their “missionary” work despite losing money.
Recto said the government may also have to continue the operating losses of Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit (MRT-LRT) in exchange of providing efficient and cheap mass transportation system to the commuting public.
Meanwhile, he said some crucial functions and manpower complement of GOCCs headed for the chopping block could be folded to existing departments and agencies to mine their experience and skills.
He said employees of GOCCs who will not be absorbed by other money-making GOCCs or departments should be paid with handsome severance packages commensurate to the length of their patriotic service.
“Let’s give them what is due to them and even allow them to continue working in other government agencies,” Recto said.
Nevertheless, he reiterated the designation of a “GOCC czar” who would oversee the performance of GOCCs and government financial institutions (GFIs) and ensure that dividends from their annual incomes are remitted to the national government.
“The GOCC czar will do nothing but to pressure GOCCs to perform at par and give out dividends at the end of each fiscal year,” he said. “Some GOCCs need adult supervision. It is time for the President to assign a Big Brother who would watch over their operations,” Recto added.
Recto said the designation of a GOCC czar would be needed after the executive branch is finished ridding itself of losing and idle GOCCs and GFIs following the Senate’s probe on the “fat cats” in these government instrumentalities.
The Department of Finance (DoF) has estimated the existence of at least 736 GOCCs, 14 of which are closely watched or monitored due to its heavily dependence on state subsidy or advances.
At least 52 of these GOCCs have registered losses in 2008, DoF data showed, with the NFA posting the highest net loss followed by the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), the National Power Corporation (Napocor), the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).
Under the Dividends Law of 1994 – also known as Republic Act 7656 – GOCCs and GFIs are required to give half of their net income to the national coffers as dividend remittance.