Your columnist, Magda Wierzycka, is overly critical of the role of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in managing investments on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) members (Time for public servants to stand up against the looters, September 27).
First, the issuance of bonds is healthy for the entire South African market, including other pension fund and insurance companies. The reality is that there simply aren’t enough bonds in SA to meet the demand from institutional investors. In addition, all asset managers, both active and trackers, know that no bond issue in SA is entirely owned by any one manager, including the PIC — there will always be prudent limits in place.
Second, the GEPF is one of the best funded pension funds in the world, especially when one takes the scale of the fund into consideration.
Against its peer group of large funds by assets globally, the GEPF remains solvent (in that it has more assets than current liabilities, materially stronger since 1994) compared to CalPERS (US), APG (Netherlands), ATP (Denmark) and so on, which are all underwater.
Even the world’s largest pension fund, the GPIF of Japan with almost $2-trillion in assets, is actuarially insolvent. So rather than bashing the PIC and GEPF at every opportunity, let’s find a solution to better manage transparency and accountability at these institutions. Unless, of course, it is the objective of asset gatherers out there to get their snouts into the PIC’s trough.