Public Investment Corporation (PIC) senior manager in Enterprise-wide and Operational Risk, Candace Abrahams before giving testimony during the PIC Commission of Inquiry held at Sammy Marks Square, Pretoria. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

PRETORIA – Development manager at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Alvin Schiel, said on Wednesday the threat of your bonus being on the line was an ever-present and real risk, that had been a most effective tool in managing “compliance”. 

Schiel told the PIC Commission of Inquiry that the sword that was always above your head ready to fall at any time. 

“In an environment, where many are paid below a market-related cost to company (CTC), for most the bonus represents the justification to stay at the PIC as it brings one closer to market. So for most the ‘PIC Bonus’ is not simply a bonus but a vital part of their income, after all, we have families and loved ones that look to us for financial support,” he said. 

Schiel said though mentioned in hushed tones given the secrecy that shrouds bonuses, the unofficial understanding of staff is: “The one who falls into disfavour with management will feel it severely in the pocket come bonus time irrespective of real performance.” Heaven forbid the one who falls into disfavour is a department head because then the whole department will most likely feel the pain as was the case in IT two years back. 

On Tuesday acting executive head of risk and compliance at the PIC, Candace Abrahams told the Commission that there was no clear and transparent approach in the manner in which remuneration was calculated and determined for staff at the PIC.

“In my experience through my capacity as the acting executive head for risk and compliance and thus an Exco member, my input into the determination of annual salary increases, short-term incentives, and long-term incentives ends after the Exco for balanced scorecard,” said Abrahams.

She said she was neither privy to, nor consulted or even given an opportunity into the actual calculation and determination of remuneration for staff that report into the executive head for risk and compliance function. 

“While I am required by the human resources (HR) department to sign-off remuneration letters for staff as the executive head for the department, this remuneration, in my mind is already pre-determined. The letters addressed to each staff member outlining the remuneration are compiled and printed by the Human Resources department, are sent for my signature,” she said. 

Abrahams told the commission that the timing of signing these letters would render her unable to give input, as the letters were circulated for signature about a day or two before actual payment into staff bank accounts, is made. 

“This, therefore, would infer that the payroll process would have already been concluded, as I understand that the processing of payroll payments requires about five to seven days for the human resources department to process before funds reflect in the staff bank accounts.” 

The subject of remuneration is a bone of contention generally among staff, as there is very little congruency in practice relative to what is communicated in general by the HR department. 

“In my experience, the HR department has communicated widely that re-grading and salary adjustments therein are conducted to ensure that staff are remunerated at the mid-point of their grade. During my acting period, staff within my own department have indicated to me that after having approached the HR department to see the pay-scale of their grade, they establish that they are remunerated below the mid-point of the pay-scale,” said Abrahams. 

Abrahams was not the only executive to raise the remuneration issue before the Commission.

On Monday former executive head of risk and compliance at the PIC, Paul Magula said salary adjustments at the PIC were imposed to the executive management and management was just given letters to sign and give letters to staff members.

Former senior manager of information security, risk and governance at the PIC, Simphiwe Mayisela, also said the asset manager treated its employees unequally when it came to remuneration.

The PIC’s former chief technology officer, Luyanda Ntuane, who claimed that some staff had their salaries increased by more than R1 million in a period of less than five years, called on the PIC Commission of Inquiry to probe the salary structure and reviews within Africa’s largest asset manager.