Social Security: Who said it was your money?

تم نشره في Mon 5 May / May 2014. 07:31 PM - آخر تعديل في Mon 5 May / May 2014. 07:31 PM

By Jumana Ghunaimat

Maybe the government, and its president, Dr. Abdullah Ensour, think that the restoration of part of the Jordan Phosphate Mining Company (JPMC) will be considered an accomplishment that expresses a genuine response to the demands of the popular movements, which called for the restoration of state assets that were sold in a time of chaos and lack of standards.

Today, the government is trying to buy the stake of the Government of the Sultanate of Brunei in the JPMC, but, since it does not have money, through the funds of the Social Security Corporation (SSC); whether with or without its consent, there is no difference; the result is the same: New losses, and an ill-considered investments.

The government is being stubborn. The conservatives came out long ago warning of the consequences, since the deal will carry a significant cost for the SSC. Also, there is nothing new; leaked information confirm that the government is seeking to buy it through the SSC Investment Fund, possibly in partnership with a foreign investment entity, currently working in the mining sector.

The Brunei government is not motivated to sell, as opposed to what is rumored, and this is one of the problems facing the government. Therefore, some link the purchase with the proposed financial settlement with the company's former chairman Walid Kurdi, by virtue of his good relationship with the Government of Brunei.

The point of raising this issue now, again, is to assert that the deal is not in favor of SSC at this time, considered the asking price. It is rumored that the value of shares owned by the Government of Brunei is around 80 million dinars, while discussions are revolving around 350-400 million dinars that the SSC will pay with the new partner, which the government is seeking to persuade soon.

The danger lies in the prevailing mentality of the government, which believes that the SSC’s savings are theirs, or their disposal, and therefore has the right to control and direct it at will.

This mentality that inhabited governments and officials historically, and all the factors of change that have occurred over the past years could not change; perhaps even stretched further after the harsh consequences of the Arab Spring, and the blood that it spilled, and used by the governments as an excuse to loot the SSC.

Disregard for the people and their rights, and the absence of governance and transparency, are ways to ensure developmental failure. This is what happened to us exactly. The most damning evidence of that is the absence of positive financial results by the SSC Investment Fund for two years, with people not knowing whether their investments have improved or declined; increased or decreased! The funds management did not bother itself enough to tell people what happened to their life savings during the 28 months.

Billions of dinars are with the fund, of which we know nothing since more than two years. Since its inception in 2003, the fund achieved good financial results; the average return on assets reached about 11% per year, which is one of the best returns achieved compared with other investment funds and financial and banking institutions — leading its assets to grow from 1600 million dinars in 1/1/2003, to reach 5180.5 million dinars in 31/12/2011.

An official at the SSC Investment Fund confirms that it will be issuing the two late budgets (for the years 2012 and 2013) during the current month — note that the current management of the fund, represented by its president Suleiman al-Hafiz, took office in early 2014, and the budgets were not ready, though, still the announcement of these budgets is coming in a few months.

Buying back what was sold, failure to declare transactions except after they are done, and the delay in the disclosure of the financial results of SSC Investment Fund, all reflect one thing; the continued official belief that they have the right to deal in people’s money, even without asking them.

@jumanaghunaimat

 

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition.

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