March 10, 2004 The Government Employees Retirement System board received positive news Wednesday on the status of its investments as the board ended a series of meetings that began Monday.
GERS earned 22.19 percent on its investment for calendar year 2003, which translates to earnings of $216,650,000.
"Over the last 10 years we have never had that high of a return," Raymond James, chair of the GERS board, said. "The market has rebounded and the system is positioned properly with the right mixture of equity and bonds investment."
The board received performance reviews this week from its investment managers Alliance Bernstein; Brandywine Asset Management; Credit Suisse Asset Management; Duncan-Hurst Capital Management; Lord, Abett and Co.; LSV Asset Management; MDL Capital Management; MFS Investment Management; Oechsle International Advisors; Oppenheimer Capital; PIMCO; State Street Global Advisors; Union Heritage; and Woodford Capital.
West Indian Co. Ltd. President Edward E. Thomas Sr. also told the board Wednesday that the Havensight Mall earned a 12.86 percent return on its investment for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2003. This translates to a profit of $4.1 million.
WICO manages the mall for GERS, which purchased the property for $32 million in 1994.
Thomas told the board that the occupancy rate is at 100 percent for the mall. He added that with the projected increase in cruise-ship passengers, this year is expected to be "another banner year," which will benefit the tenants as well as GERS.
"This is good for the system," James said. "It gives us additional resources."
Proceeds from the Havensight Mall are used to fund the administration of the retirement system, according to James.
James reiterated that the board still must "come to grips" with the fact that $74.1 million of the system's earnings had to be spent on retiree benefits in calendar year 2003.
The V.I. government contributes biweekly into the system, James said, but "we have not received any additional percentage in the contribution rates since April of 1993." The government's contribution has been 14.5 percent since then.
"At the same time we've had numerous legislative amendments that have enhanced benefits over these years, without the mandated reserve for those benefits," James said. "This is what is creating the ever-increasing unfunded liability."
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