Monday, September 28, 2015

Pension matters: Make no mistake. The threat has abated but unreliable AFICS/NY leadership is still in place! 28 September 2015

Make no mistake. The threat may have abated temporarily, but the same unreliable AFICS/NY President and leadership are in place. We’re at an important juncture where every participant and beneficiary of the UN Pension Fund must take cognizance of the experience of the past year. 

For the first time in many years, we were faced with risks to the system of checks and balances that have kept our Fund safe and healthy for the past 65 years when others failed. The AFICS/NY President and Governing Board acted against the interest of AFICS members by supporting the draft MOU, dismissing our concerns about media reports about a move to riskier investments, and opposing at every turn the signing of a petition to the Secretary-General asking him to ensure that the system of checks and balances was maintained.

To recap briefly, we had a draft MOU pushed by the Fund CEO that contained risks to the bifurcated structure of the Fund – the clear division between the Fund Secretariat headed by the CEO and the Investment Management Division headed by the Representative of the Secretary-General. We also had reports in the media that claimed that the Fund was moving toward riskier investments such as hedge funds. 

AFICS members were never consulted on any of these issues. Instead those of us who pushed for a general meeting in order for AFICS members to be consulted prior to the Pension Board meeting were called ‘scaremongers’. And instead of consultations, AFICS arranged for a parade of senior UN officials to ‘reassure’ AFICS members that the MOU contained no risks and that there was no movement toward riskier investments. Yet on 17 June 2015, Curling, Lowell and I met with the AFICS President and other Governing Board members, who told us that the ‘worrying’ elements of the MOU had been removed; and that the RSG had leaked information to the media about riskier investments which she had since retracted, so there was nothing to worry about! 

In fact, the revised MOU still contained the same ‘worrying’ elements and we never understood why information about riskier investments would be leaked to the media without any substance behind the leaks! In the meantime, at every turn, the AFICS/NY President was opposing the signing of the petition to the SG, for which more than 3000 signatures were collected, and continuing her strenuous support of the revised MOU. 

The fact that we have a situation of an MOU placed on hold by USG Takasu, perhaps permanently, and no more media reports of riskier investments, has nothing to do with the efforts of the AFICS/NY leadership. In fact, they appear to have done everything in their power to dismiss our concerns about threats to the system of checks and balances and work at counter-purposes behind the scenes.

They’ve now shamelessly decided that the request of 82 members under the By-Laws fail to meet requirements, and also shamelessly neglect to hold elections of a President and other officers, required under the By-Laws. They’ve consistently distorted the issues by selectively posting relevant communications on the AFICS website, neglecting to post our letters while posting their own responses. Make no mistake. 

The threat may have abated temporarily, but the same unreliable AFICS/NY leadership is in place, no doubt counting on the apathy and complacency of the AFICS membership, whose dues are, in effect, taxation without representation. It’s up to us to demand accountability and responsibility from those who purport to represent us. Unless we do so, we have no one to blame but ourselves when the next threat arises, as no doubt it will.

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