THE 85th anniversary theme, “Reaching New Heights in the New Normal,” aptly captures the achievements of the Government Services Assurance System (GSIS) as it adapts to restrictions and adjustments due to the pandemic. Thanks to the initiatives and measures that were implemented from the first signs of the Covid-19 outbreak and throughout the pandemic, GSIS has been able to stay the course and continue to bring ginhawa for everyone.
Unveiling of the new corporate brand
GSIS unveiled its new brand campaign dubbed Ginhawa for All (GFAL) virtually in November 2021. It aims to make GSIS products and services more accessible and convenient for its stakeholders.
At the heart of the rebranding program are the three GFAL bundles, namely GFAL Active, GFAL Grand and GFAL Plus. Information on benefits and services and application forms for members, retirees and other stakeholders are grouped together to make them simpler, clearer and more accessible.
GFAL Active covers the wide range of social security benefits, loan privileges and non-life insurance products for active members of GSIS. GFAL Grand, the second GFAL package, is made up of various benefits and services available to retirees. The third offer, called GFAL Plus, brings together the various products and services intended for former members of GSIS, the immediate families of active members and non-life policyholders.
The GFAL also represents pension fund innovations during the pandemic. Contactless filing of complaints and services by e-mail; postal mail or delivery courier; or drop boxes at GSIS offices was adopted. Three Ginhawa loan programs have been launched, namely: Multi-purpose Loan Plus, a program that waives fees on all defaulted loans; Computer Loan which offers assistance of 30,000 pesos for the purchase of a computer; and GSIS Financial Assistance Loan-Educational Loan, an immediate, fee-based study program for family members. The company’s website (www.gsis.gov.ph) was revitalized to make it simpler and easier to navigate and the GSIS Touch mobile application was launched.
Enhanced loan products
To address the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on its stakeholders, GSIS has enhanced functionality and extended the implementation of its lending programs.
GSIS offered the Multipurpose Loan (MPL) Plus in April 2022 as part of its Ginhawa for All (GFAL) programs. Under MPL Plus, the credit limit was increased to 5 million pesos from 3 million pesos; extended the maximum payment period from seven to 10 years; and eased borrower eligibility requirements. Previously, members in arrears on their financial assistance loan and GSIS housing loan did not qualify for MPL. Now, under MPL Plus, they will be allowed to apply, but their GSIS financial aid loan arrears will be deducted from their loan proceeds.
When President Rodrigo Duterte declared Palawan and Regions 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 13 (Caraga) in a state of calamity due to Typhoon ‘Odette’ in December 2021, GSIS immediately offered the GFAL emergency loan to its members and retirees in these six areas. This year in March, GSIS opened the same loan window to over 25,000 concerned members and retirees in the province of Davao del Norte and the municipality of Montevista in Davao de Oro. The aforementioned areas have been declared in a state of calamity due to massive flooding caused by continuous heavy rains, leading to damage to houses, crops, properties, critical facilities and infrastructure.
Proposed new housing programs
To help alleviate financial hardship amid the ongoing global health crisis, GSIS has introduced viable Ginhawa For All housing programs for members and non-members.
Launched in July 2021, the Ginhawa for All Lease with Option to Buy program gives informal occupiers the opportunity to legitimize their stay at GSIS properties by renting the accommodation with an option to buy at any time during the rental agreement of a year. Vacant properties can also be rented out to other interested parties. A prospective tenant must be a Philippine citizen legally authorized to enter into a contract and with a regular source of income.
As of May 15, 2022, GSIS has processed 1,984 of the 2,559 Ginhawa for All Lease with Option to Buy applications received, and the remainder are being assessed.
On May 4 of this year, GSIS also launched a Housing Account Restructuring and Forgiveness program that grants full forgiveness of accrued penalties and surcharges on all home loan accounts. Under the full payment option, GSIS will provide an additional discount of 50% on accrued interest. An interest rate of 6% per annum compounded annually is imposed on the restructured balance, the payment of which can be extended up to 70 years. This latest home restructuring program applies to delinquent accounts as well as up-to-date home loan accounts.
The monthly amortizations of the restructured balance can be paid by payroll deduction; direct payment; post-dated cheques; or through the external payment service providers of GSIS LandBank, UnionBank and Bayad (formerly Bayad Center).
In addition to the Ginhawa For All Lease with Option to Purchase and Housing Account Restructuring and Waiver programs, GSIS also offers a more affordable payment method for its investment property retail units, including the internal financing (IHF) and acceptance of the letter of guarantee. . This is in addition to the sale of the GSIS properties for cash.
For cash sale, the bidder must pay the balance in full within 30 calendar days. In case of IHF, the loanable amount is fixed at an amount where the monthly amortization will not exceed 35% of the borrower’s gross monthly income. The 10% deposit will be paid within six months and the 90% balance will be paid monthly by payroll deduction, direct payment or through GSIS payment service providers.
Introduction of alternative payment solutions
To further enhance the efficiency of its loan collection and reduce the number of rate arrears, GSIS has partnered with its service banks, Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and Union Bank of the Philippines ( UnionBank), and Bayad. All offer safe, secure and convenient alternative loan payment options. GSIS borrowers can prepay their loans or settle underpaid, delayed, and unpaid accounts through these channels.
Active and inactive members, as well as retirees, can pay their loan balances at more than 3,000 Bayad outlets across the country. Through the Bayad partnership that began in 2021, GSIS collected 113 million pesos in loan repayments in May 2022.
Additionally, GSIS currently accepts member loan payments online through UnionBank’s online application and Landbank’s Link.BizPortal.
GSIS will soon add 10,000 OTC payment points and online payment channels.
Helped members maximize their benefits
To help members secure their hard-earned privileges and benefits, GSIS has offered penalty tolerance to government agencies that settle their unpaid premiums.
To qualify for the penalty waiver, agencies must enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoA) with GSIS. They can get a 20-40% forbearance on penalties for their unpaid premium obligations, depending on their arrears. An additional 10% tolerance will be granted if at least 20% of the total obligation is paid prior to execution of the MOU or an additional 5% tolerance if at least 15% is paid. A maximum tolerance of 60% may be granted, subject to approval.
The sentence tolerance was first implemented in 2016 and revised in 2021.
Improved accessibility of services
The pandemic has highlighted the need for GSIS to provide greater accessibility and connectivity to its members, retirees, other customers and the public. To protect them from the virus, the online versions of the GSIS Guide to Transactions and Processes (GTAP) were launched in October 2019 and the enhanced version of the GSIS Touch in February 2022.
GTAP is the Philippine government’s first electronic and online Citizen’s Charter (guide to frontline public enterprises and other basic services). In addition to the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System kiosks, GTAP is now available on the GSIS website and the GSIS Touch mobile app. Instead of reading the GSIS charter on a tarp, members can access information about GSIS services; step-by-step process, eligibility and requirements; and responsible GSIS staff using their tablet, personal computer or mobile phone. GTAP also complies with Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services Act of 2018.
GSIS Touch, a mobile application that gives members and retirees instant access to their GSIS records using their mobile phones, has also been upgraded. Active members can now generate provisional calculations of their loan and claim benefits, as well as submit their loan and claim requests. They can also view their membership and insurance policy records; keep track of their premium remittances and loan repayments; and check their dividends. Retirees can already submit their interview schedule for the annual revalidation of retiree information at their convenience via the app. Other than that, they can view their monthly pension records and loan repayments. The app also now recognizes fingerprints or facial image for logging in users using smartphones with biometric capability or functionality.
GSIS Touch has 272,768 registered users as of May 15, 2022.