I FEEL some kind of guilt as I retract my earlier pronouncement that my third letter would be my last.
I realize that personal responsibility recognizes no boundaries when you believe you can do little things that may perhaps pave the way for positive changes. It is not my intention to point fingers as I know it will not produce positive results.
Based on the responses to my three letters, I’ve found out that stopping my campaign to plant the seed of change will not accomplish anything. I also don’t deny the fact that we have responsibilities as citizens to express what we believe is right, especially if it can have a positive influence on a community where I once lived.
I welcome criticisms that serve as an inspiration to do better and to move forward. I will pay little attention to praises because people on your side will always agree with you anyway. What I want is to reach out to the unbelievers.
I will not be discouraged by those who attack and discredit me. I pay no attention to them.
Confrontation produces resistance on both sides of the argument. I prefer dialogues which are constructive and I avoid heated debates.
Change, moreover, will not happen overnight and that is the beauty of a democratic society
Now let me address some of the comments posted online.
The problem was not the implementation of the statutes governing the pension plan.
The Retirement Fund implemented the laws on pensions but it did not create them. To discredit those who follow the laws is unfair.
When you work in an organization, you have to give respect and obedience to its policies.
The spirit of teamwork is expected from all personnel to carry out the mission of the organization. In-fighting and constant arguments will not help the cause. All personnel are expected to adhere to the government’s code of ethics.
Now, here is why I think the pension program is in big trouble: the so-called vesting credits allowed by the pension laws are the problem. Remove all of them!
These include the prior service credit, the Trust Territory service credit, the extra bonus for the elected officials (which was eventually repealed), the military service credit, the education credit, the 30 percent early retirement bonus (which was also repealed), the lump-sum annual leave, the sick leave conversion to service and the inclusion of lump-sum annual leave in the computation of the three highest earnings.
These are good and noble entitlements but they are promises made yesterday that can no longer be fulfilled today and in the future.
As much as possible, do not use the term “credit” when you define a benefit. The word credit is commonly used when you borrow money from the bank. In the Retirement Fund’s case, credit is synonymous to a deficit.
No new members are allowed to join the defined benefit plan, but the Fund still has unfunded pension liabilities.
The next time a single benefit is considered, look first how to fund it; otherwise, do not even think about it.
It is all right to create additional entitlements as long as funding exists. Otherwise you are only creating a new deficit. And a huge deficit will result in the Fund’s collapse.
Reduce the current benefits commensurate to the available resources. This is the best medicine. Ease the financial pressure on the Fund. Eliminate other obligations that are not necessary. The load on the Fund is already so heavy.
Do not create further obligations until resources are available. Pay what is due to the Retirement Fund without delay so that it may meet its mandates and extend its life. Spare the Fund from frivolous lawsuits.
Once the bullet leaves the barrel, you can’t take it back.
That is why even though it seem painful, we need to find collaborative efforts to solve the crisis we face today in this lovely community.
My future letters to the MV will discuss the benefits formula, our children’s education and the unproductive effects of annual and sick leaves.
“An embarrassing failure is not a bad thing if men learn from it.”
“Let’s nourish the seed until it bears fruit that will last for centuries.”
Please join me in prayer: “Our God Almighty, we implore your Highest Name. Please grant our leaders the wisdom and knowledge they need so they can lead this great commonwealth back to prosperity. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”
Si Yu’us ma’ase.
NOEL M. SORIA
Virginia Beach, Virginia