Recently, a suggestion was made from Government House that the Government Employees’ Retirement System consider reinstating loans to its members. With the GERS on the verge of collapse, this suggestion borders on the ridiculous.

How is an institution that right now is hemorrhaging money and liquidating funds on a monthly basis to meet its obligations going to loan more money to its members? With the demise of the system measured in months rather than in years, how does this help anyone at all?

In the last several months we’ve heard about an advisory board being established to problem solve this issue. Warnings were to begin to retirees and current members, about how to ready themselves for its failure, and now talk about loans? It seems that in the chaos of the imminent crisis, government is all over the board on this issue.

The demise of a pension system is a catastrophe for all. Crisis for those that were relying on the money in their old age, and for those who put in tens of thousands of dollars that they will never see. It will be devastating for all those people who will lose their jobs, and for the circulation of money in the community, that will be diminished. It will put a strain on all the nonprofits who will try to help, and most importantly, it is something we have all seen coming for decades, and have not prepared for. Maybe it’s also time to look at other pension systems that were underfunded and see if any partial solutions were workable. In addition, let’s not continue to fool ourselves into thinking we’re going to come up with the amount of money needed every month to fund this system or that the federal government will bail us out.

Loans? Clear, honest information is what is needed for all. Exactly how much time is left before the system crashes? Will payouts be cut in half? Will GERS property assets, like Havensight Mall, be sold to add to the pot?

It’s time for the government to drop any talk that doesn’t make sense and set up workshops and counseling to help retirees, contributors, and the community, navigate the coming, painful fiscal blow.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer.