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Saudi Arabia imposes 5% VAT on basic goods, OFWs advised to spend wisely

by UNTV NEWS   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

International Philippine School in Al-Khobar

The imposition of the government of Saudi Arabia of a five percent Value Added Tax (VAT) will affect the Arab nation’s food and beverage industry, petroleum products, rents of commercial establishments, remittance fee, and domestic transportation, among others.

The VAT already resulted in an increase of almost 55 percent in prices of gasoline.

With this, electricity rates will go up to 300 percent.

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Raymond Tolosa is already complaining because of a ten percent rise in school tuition this year. He worries it will further increase next year because of additional taxes.

“It’s better to send my children back to the Philippines because it’s more costly to study here,” he said.

However, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto noted that some Philippine schools in the Arab country might be exempted from the additional taxes if it can prove that they are community schools.

“For schools that have requested for certification, come here at the embassy… we can assure you that we will release a statement saying you are exempted, ” Alonto said.

Exempted from the additional taxes are residential rents, medicines, and medical equipment.

It was in 2016 when the unified agreement for VAT of the cooperation council for the Arab states of the gulf was released. The Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia are among the Arab countries that signed the agreement.

The VAT is a financial measure of Saudi Arabia, which will become one of its non-oil revenue sources.

According to Ambassador Alonto, with this development, Filipinos based in Saudi Arabia should learn how to properly save money.

“Filipinos here know how to endure. We know how to strive for our families,” said Alonto — Bong Duqueza | UNTV News & Rescue

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OWWA needs 500 additional personnel for overseas offices 

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Arnel Ignacio admitted in the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon that the agency is undermanned.

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio admitted on the talk show Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, that the agency is undermanned.

He said currently, they only have 120 people deployed outside the country and they need 500 more personnel.

Ignacio admitted that there had been times when they had to borrow personnel from other agencies.

Since they are understaffed, the quality of service given to OFWs suffers.

The deputy administrator said that in Riyadh, an OWWA employee has to review contracts that can reach up to 900 a day; increasing the risk of making errors due to fatigue.

He asked OFWs to understand their situation and assured that they are doing all they can to address these problems.

Ignacio also has a reminder to Filipino migrant workers.

“Kapag ang iyong papeles o qualification ay kulang at sasabihin sayo ng sinomang kausap mo dyan na ‘Aayusin natin o kami na ang bahala’, tumanggi ka na. Nagsimula ka ng mali tapos aasahan mo na magiging tama along the way? Common sense, mas malamang mamalasin ka,” said the deputy administrator.

(If your documents or qualifications are insufficient and your contact says, ‘We’ll take care of it’, refuse it them right away. You begin your application the wrong way and you expect it to correct itself along the way? It’s common sense: you are more likely get in trouble.)

Among the problems encountered by OFWs is the possession of fake documents given by illegal recruiters; not being able to go home due to lack of exit visas; and being victimized by abusive employers.

Ignacio also created a Facebook page where OFWs can easily reach them and report their problems.

They just need to search for DA Arnell Ignacio OFW to speak directly to OWWA personnel.

“This is their mode of communication. Bakit ka mag-iimbento ng bago kung sila ay magaling sa plataporma na ‘to? Kaya nga, ngayon kapag nagpapadala sila dyan, ang bilis-bilis,” said Ignacio.

(This is their mode of communication. Why do we have to invent a new one if they are already adept with this platform? So this time, when they send their concerns, response is very quick.)

Meanwhile, OWWA will give 5,000 financial assistance to active OWWA members and 2,500 for inactive members who are affected by the deployment ban.

It is expected that the ban will be lifted soon. — Mon Jocson | UNTV News & Rescue

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DOLE announces signing of final draft of Kuwait-PH agreement on OFW rights

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2018

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III


MANILA, Philippines —  After a two-day meeting last week, the labor officials of the Philippines and Kuwait have agreed on the final draft of the bilateral agreement or the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

Kuwait has also agreed on the provisions concerning the right of OFWs to keep their passports and on issues regarding their contract.

In a message,  Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said it is possible that within two weeks, Kuwait will be able to sign the MOU between the two countries.

However, Secretary Bello will still not recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the lifting of the total deployment ban in the said Gulf state even if the MOU is signed.

The secretary said he gave two conditions for the lifting of the ban, one of which is the deliverance of justice over the death of Joanna Demafelis, the OFW who was killed and stored in a freezer.

The lifting of the ban can be reconsidered for the skilled workers but not for household service workers.

Meanwhile, some Japanese businessmen offered jobs to the labor department for the thousands of OFW repatriates from Kuwait.

“I had a meeting with some Japanese businessmen. They are targeting our repatriated overseas worker from Kuwait and they are offering jobs for their in-flight catering services. They are offering a good salary of $800. Initially, they are targeting 1,000 for a start,” said the labor chief.

Starting in May, Bello said DOLE will start deploying OFWs to Japan once contracts of the first batch of repatriates to be recruited are approved. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

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POEA faces challenges in getting bilateral agreement from other countries

by UNTV   |   Posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2018

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia on Get It Straight with Daniel Razon

MANILA, Philippines —It is a big challenge for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to have a bilateral agreement with big countries where a large number of Filipinos are working.

On the program Get It Straight with Daniel Razon, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said they are exerting extra efforts to get the approval of other countries for the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

This is to prevent the occurrence of same abuse Joana Demafelis had experienced in Kuwait.

But POEA admitted that it is not easy to convince other countries to sign an agreement.

The show’s host, Daniel Razon commented, “In other countries, we have bilateral agreements. It would seem that the bilateral agreement is necessary because they don’t have enough laws that will protect the overseas workers.”

Olalia agreed saying, “You are right. That is challenging for us. We want to let them know that they should look into their domestic laws.”

Some of the counties that the Philippines has an agreement with are Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Germany.

Meanwhile, the undersecretary said that more than 2,000 OFWs have already been repatriated from Kuwait.

The repatriation program is still ongoing since the amnesty went into effect.

The agency is prioritizing OFWs with health problems and had been staying in shelters for quite a long time.

The agency admitted that there are OFWs who still need to stay in Kuwait because their employer filed cases against them.

“Majority of our countrymen there are saying they did not do anything wrong. Still, their employers sued them. Employers would file cases against OFWs to prevent them from leaving… but we’re helping them [OFWs] and we give them legal representation, ” said Olalia.

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has opened a 24/7 command center to help OFWs around the world.

The agency once again reminds Filipinos who are planning to work abroad to directly coordinate with them to avoid getting victimized by illegal recruiters. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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