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SSC money, assets utterly safe, protected — Mulki

Premier says no change in SSC’s investment policies

By Raed Omari - Apr 17,2018 - Last updated at Apr 17,2018

Prime Minister Hani Mulki addresses a Lower House meeting on Tuesday (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)

AMMAN — Prime Minister Hani Mulki on Tuesday stressed that neither the government nor any other party interferes in the Social Security Investment Fund (SSIF), which administers assets worth more than JD9 billion. 

During Tuesday’s Lower House general session dedicated to discuss the situation and future of SSIF, Mulki said: “It cannot be that the government is fully trusted to take decisions concerning state-owned lands worth billions and not trustworthy enough when it comes to the funds and assets of the SSIF.”

Mulki said that nothing has changed in the SSIF’s investment policies, which are set by the SSC board and executed by the fund. “The SSIF has all the freedom to manage its investments,” he reasserted. 

“It is not possible for the fund to take permission for every share it buys,” he said, in an apparent reference to a demand by some lawmakers that the SSC board should call the shots on SSIF investments. 

However, checks and balances are in place, according to the premier. 

“The SSIF’s reports are referred to the House once every three months,” Mulki noted.

Expressing dismay over the suspicion and absence of trust in the relationship between the government and the House, Mulki warned against what he called a “systematic campaign” targeting Jordan and Jordanians by “probably” external parties wishing harm for the country and its citizens.

“We will not allow anyone to steal our future and bloc our endeavour to build and reform,” the premier said.

Mulki said that the relationship between the government and the House has reached a “complementary level”, expressing rejection for any underestimation of MPs and their role.

Labour Minister Samir Murad, who is also the chairman of the SSC’s board of directors, explained that the SSIF’s investment decisions are taken within the framework of the corporation’s general plan and investment policies approved by the SSC board.

The minister cited a relevant explanation by the Judicial Council’s Law Interpretation Bureau of Articles 8 and 14 of the SSC Law governing the work of the SSIF and its duties upon a question the government sent on March 3.   

On March 21, the bureau convened and ruled that the SSIF, while carrying out its investment activities, is “supposed” to follow the SSC’s general guidelines as endorsed by its board and, having that established, it can then enjoy “full jurisdiction” over the management and investment of its assets without the need to obtain the approval of any other party within the corporation’s organisational structure.

In its ruling, a copy of which was made available to The Jordan Times, the bureau said that the SSC board has the right to monitor the SSIF in case the latter’s investment decisions deviate from the corporation’s general investment policies.  

Murad explained that any investment-related decision begins with examining the investment opportunity by the concerned unit at the SSIF, which reports to the fund’s internal investment committee for review, audit and risk evaluation and finally to the SSC investment council for a final say.

He added that the investment council’s decisions should be consistent with the policies approved by the corporation’s board.

“Despite such strict internal auditing [within the SSC], the investment decisions of the SSIF are also monitored by the Audit Bureau, the government and the two Houses of Parliament,” Murad said. 

Tuesday’s session saw a number of MPs expressing concern over the way SSC’s assets are managed and a reported scenario of transforming the SSIF into a private company. The majority of the lawmakers who spoke yesterday warned against tampering with the “future generation’s house”, which they said is as “sacred and untouchable” as the army and all security bodies.

The Huose issued a set of recommendations to the government concerning the SSC and its investment arm (see separate story on page 3).   

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