THE GOVERNMENT Service Insurance System’s (GSIS) net income surged in the first quarter on the back of higher interest income and premium contributions, as well as the local bourse’s strong performance.

GSIS said on Tuesday that its net income stood at P38.7 billion in the first three months, surging from the P9.05 billion booked in the same period last year.

“It is due to the improvement in the equities market, domestic and global. There are enough factors there to support the market,” GSIS Executive Vice President Gracita Gilda V. Bocanegra said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

GSIS said its public equities portfolio accounted for about 20% of total assets in the first quarter as the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) climbed 6% year-on-year to 7,920.93 as of March 29.

Also contributing to the increase in its net income is the climb in interest earnings on the back of the GSIS’ new loan programs such as GSIS Financial Assistance Loan for personnel of the Department of Education (DepEd) and GSIS Enhanced Consolidated Salary Loan Plus for members.

Premium contributions likewise rose as its active members increased to 1.8 million in the period from last year’s 1.7 million.

GSIS President Jesus Clint O. Aranas said the pension fund will expand its lending initiatives to further push growth.

“We are going to extend loans to government employees other than DepEd… Our collection efficiency can handle this one,” he said.

Mr. Aranas added that the agency is also determined sell its “non-performing” property in the Port Area. He said the GSIS will exhaust all legal means to push through with the sale. The property is partly occupied by International Container Terminal Services, Inc., which Mr. Aranas claimed has not responded despite GSIS’ efforts to send the company letters regarding the asset.

Mr. Aranas said the 672,645 square meter (sq.m) commercial property in the Port Area has a total zonal value of P33.63 billion, while the residential property with an area of 109,212 sq.m has a total zonal value of P3.82 billion.

“The Department of Finance has now come out with the valuation of properties particularly our property in the Port Area. We will pursue our desire to sell our non-performing asset in that area,” Mr. Aranas said.

He said the GSIS will use “every means possible” to complete the sale, which he hopes will happen within the year. — RJNI