SEC chief seeks fiscal, admin autonomy
MANILA, Philippines — The chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is seeking “financial and administrative autonomy” for the regulatory body so that it could acquire the resources to handle the troubled pre-need industry.
Amid calls for her resignation, SEC chairperson Fe Barin maintained that the SEC had not been remiss in its duties and that she was leaving her fate to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Barin said the SEC budget has been decreasing and was allocated only P241 million in 2008.
She said the regulatory body had 400 employees; of this, 70 were deployed in seven regional offices.
“If we could be given financial and administrative autonomy so we can have the right number of people with the right salaries, and the right expertise, then efficiency will be achieved,” Barin told a news conference at the Palace on Thursday.
“Up to this time, I cannot accept allegations that we have been negligent… We exert effort to perform the functions of our office,” she said.
Barin said the SEC had no licensed actuaries, only personnel who “understand actuarial science,” adding actuaries, or those who assess risks in financial institutions such as pre-need companies, were an “expensive commodity.”
She said she would not oppose proposals to transfer the regulation of pre-need firms from the SEC to the Insurance Commission.
Barin urged the public to consult the SEC help desks at their Manila office for questions on their pre-need plans.
The pre-need industry’s woes were highlighted again after the Legacy Group, which has around 500,000 plan holders, closed down in January. Congress is investigating the matter.
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