Why Overseas Filipino Workers need a separate, distinct OFW bank?

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Freeze frame. Women OFWs working in a dress shop in Riyadh. File copy.

smileredunhappyIt is a good thing that the government is focused on the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers. But why open a separate bank for OFWs?

The present crop of government officials under the Duterte administration, and so so true of the past ones, has no trust that existing government owned or controlled banks can effectively cater to the financial needs and service the overseas Filipino workers.

That is why, despite the existence of capable government-owned financial institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB). the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PostBank), and the Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines, a subsidiary of LBP, a new bank is still necessary geared solely for the Overseas Filipino Workers.

But wait, how can we forget that on November 16, 2016, Land Bank of the Philippines bought PostBank specifically to become the lending bank for the Overseas Filipino Workers and their families?

So it is learned that Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the OFW Bank will cater to the remittance and other banking needs of the Filipino migrant workers all over the world which will be operational in September 2017.

Is it a manifestation that existing banks and remittance companies are not enough, then?

Anyway, the government, so Bello claimed, is set to provide enhanced services and programs for the benefit and ease the lives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) this year, which remain to be seen, felt and availed by the supposed beneficiaries themselves.

The Labor secretary is bragging that the new bank is Duterte administration’s initiative to benefit the migrant workers. The bank is dedicated to the needs of OFWs and will be partly owned by them, Bello disclosed.

With an authorized capital of P3 billion and subscribed capital of P2 billion, the bank will open P1 billion of its capital to OFWs for subscription and become part owners.

But while the new bank will also extend loans to OFWs, the labor department and its Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will also extend micro-financing loans amounting to P50,000 to P300,000 to repatriated OFWs to provide capital and help them re-establish sustainable living.

Will OWWA delegate the loan financing schemes to the bank once it start in operation?

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