Gov’t bolsters financial literacy initiatives for OFWs

MANILAThe Philippine government has bolstered its financial literacy initiatives for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) by integrating finance and investment topics in all OFW predeparture briefings, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Tuesday.

"To help develop a culture of savings among our modernday heroes, OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) is incorporating topics on financial literacy and investment opportunities in the predeparture orientation seminars. Doing this will certainly help our OFWs in managing their finances abroad," Bello said in a statement read by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia in a forum in Pasay City.

During the National Forum on Migration and International Migrants' Day celebration in Pasay, Philippine Migrants Rights Watch chief Carmelita Nuqui said OFW remittances reached a total of USD21.3 billion in September 2018 alone.

"OFWs have been instrumental to our country's development by sustaining our economy through remittances. While these figures are considered a welcome development to our country's economy, there are also concerns regarding this," Nuqui said.

"As we have been interacting with various OFWs and communities overseas, we learned how they gather funds to send to their loved ones. Most of our OFWs send a large percentage of their living allowances back to their families," she added.

In most cases, these OFWs resort to loans to provide for their families resulting in debt bondage that forces them to return or even stay longer in their host countries.

Phearl Benong, member of the Ministry of Migrants at the Diocese of Imus, nodded in agreement that OFWs leave few to none of their salary for themselves abroad.

Benong, a former domestic helper abroad, has worked for 13 years abroad in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

"Ako, lahat ng suweldo ko noon, ipinapadala ko sa pamilya ko (I sent my full salary to my family)," she said.

"Yung iba doon nagpapart time, para lang may pangfood allowance dahil ang sahod nila para lang sa Pilipinas talaga (Some of the OFWs there even work part time just so they could have food allowance because their salary is already dedicated to their families back home)," she added.

Bello said DOLE acknowledges this issue as the lead government agency tasked to oversee the welfare and interest of OFWs.

"It is our responsibility to provide comprehensive assistance to the Filipino migrants and their families. It is also a moral obligation for the government to help OFWs in managing their finance," he said.

Aside from the financial literacy initiatives, the government established an overseas Filipino bank to cater to the special needs of Filipino migrants early this year. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency