BSP eases lending process for overseas Filipino workers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 3, 2019   •   194

(FILE) Filipino overseas workers from Lebanon inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City south of Manila, Tuesday 01 August 2006. EPA-EFE/MIKE F. ALQUINTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced it has enhanced the guidelines on the granting of consumer loans for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in order to facilitate their access to bank credit.

The Monetary Board said it has issued Resolution 1729 approving the enhanced policy expressly allowing banks to grant consumer loans for OFWs without prior approval from the BSP.

The central bank said the move is in line with its financial inclusion and empowerment agenda.

“The revised guidelines likewise liberalize the rules limiting the grant of peso consumer loans to certain types of visa holders,” the BSP said in a statement.

“In particular, peso consumer loans, except residential real estate and housing loans, may also be extended to all eligible foreign nationals with valid visa issued by relevant Philippine authorities,” it added.

Embassy officials and employees based in the Philippines are also allowed to avail of any type of peso consumer loans, the central bank said.

“The enhancements are premised on the banks’ continued adherence to sound credit underwriting practices and effective control measures in managing risks involved in granting peso consumer loans to OFWs and eligible foreign nationals,” the BSP further stated.

“The new guidelines promote greater access to bank financing for these borrowers while expanding and broadening market segment for banks,” it added.

BI to install e-gates at NAIA for departing OFWs

Robie de Guzman   •   December 9, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said it is set to launch electronic gates (e-gates) at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for overseas Filipinos workers (OFW) departing the country.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) has been signed with the service provider for the pilot testing of the e-gates, initially at the NAIA Terminal 2 immigration departure area.

The bureau said the service provider has committed to initially installing and operating two e-gates and biometric machines at NAIA’s Terminal 2 for the exclusive use of departing OFWs and airline crew of Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Under the MOA, the bureau said the provider is allowed to demonstrate the functions and capability of its machines and that “there is no obligation yet on the part of BI for the equipment.”

The agency said it is eyeing to set up the e-gates before the holiday season begins to hasten processing of passengers and reduce queues in immigration counters at the airport.

It will be recalled that the e-gate system was implemented last year in the immigration arrival areas of NAIA’s three terminals and the international airports in Mactan-Cebu, Davao, and Clark.

The noticeable drop in the incidence of long queues at airports has been attributed to the successful implementation of the project.

“We are optimistic that the same success will be replicated when the scheme becomes fully operational in our airports’ immigration departure areas,” Morente said.

He added that the new lanes of e-gates – which are seen to ensure smoother and faster processing – are in recognition of the OFWs’ contributions to the country’s economic development.

The BI said other passengers will continue to undergo regular immigration inspection, although it is studying the feasibility of making the scheme available to permanent residents and other ACR I-Card holders.

The bureau said the project’s pilot testing and demonstration would last for six months.

The agency added that it is targeting to process at least 100,000 passengers before the project could become fully operational.

The project’s entire cost will be shouldered by Ascent Solutions, a Singapore-based IT company that supplied the country’s e-gates.

DOLE now accessible worldwide through mobile app

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now have ways to stay updated on the services and offers of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through a mobile application.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the DOLE mobile app will provide Filipino workers across the globe with the latest news and regulations as well as keep them informed of their rights and benefits at work.

It will also provide them immediate access to the labor departments’ hotline numbers, and contact details of labor offices in their host countries especially during emergencies.

The DOLE mobile app is free to downloaded from the Google Play Store for Android devices and the App Store for Apple devices.

“This application is intended to provide a major channel for our workers and OFWs to get in touch with DOLE and the POLO ( Philippine Overseas Labor Office),” Bello said.

“Through the use of modern technology, they can relay their labor related concerns and complaints,” he concluded.

DOLE, BSP back e-payment of wages for private workers

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have expressed support for the electronic payment of salaries through formal accounts for workers in the private sector.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, DOLE said the e-payment of salaries will help foster financial inclusion of private-sector workers and effectively monitor proper payment of wages.

According to Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, a 2017 Global Findex Report found that only 6.6 percent of the country’s private sector wage-earners received their salaries through a formal account which is a deposit or e-money account held in a supervised financial institution.

“A low financial inclusion among the wage earners may be a source of abuses against the workers and violations of labor laws as there can be difficulty in verifying and validating the payment of correct wages and other mandatory benefits,” he added.

Although there is no law or regulation yet on the use of e-payments, the department underscored its advantages for employers and workers.

“For the employers, electronic payment of salaries will not only cut the transaction, administration, and overhead costs but will also reduce the incidence of leakages during disbursements,” DOLE said.

“For the employees, meanwhile, a formal account translates to easy access to financial products, including savings, credit, insurance, and investment,” it added.

Among the groups in the workers’ sector identified by the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee which may immediately benefit from the electronic payment of wages are the construction workers, bus drivers and conductors, household workers, factory workers, and workers in the retail and service industries.

The DOLE said the value of the payment of wages and salaries through formal accounts has also been acknowledged in countries such as Thailand, Qatar, India, Finland, Singapore, and Bangladesh.

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