I was waiting for my tita from Nagoya at the NAIA at midnight. As I sat by the waiting area while scrolling through my newsfeed, I overheard two Filipinas arguing over an online article about what seems to be the government’s plan to establish the OFW Bank.
“Puro pangako nanaman tong gobyerno na ‘to. Tignan mo sabi, October 2017 daw magagawa na yung OFW Bank, eh wala pa ngang nangyayari. Panigurado di nanaman yan matutuloy!” Exclaimed the Filipina who seemed to be in her 30’s
“Malay mo naman ‘di ba? Mairaos ni Digong ‘tong project na ‘to. E ‘di makakapag padala kana sa pamilya mo ng walang remittance fee” replied the long haired companion in her late 20’s
The conversation went on about the government’s failure to deliver platforms for OFWs, but what was apparent in the conversation, was their disbelief in the OFW bank materializing any time soon. That incident prompted me to ask myself, “Is this much talked about project really possible in that short of a time?”
How Will the OFW Bank be Made Operational?
Role of Post Bank
After struggling for so many years, the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (Postal Bank) is finally being converted into the talked about OFW Bank. Luis Carlos, Postal Bank assistant postmaster general for marketing, valuated that the government needs to prepare P2 billion to P3 billion to implement this directive by the president.
Role of Land Bank of the Philippines
The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) is handling the project. The OFW Bank will be given an authorized capital of 3 billion pesos and a subscribed capital of 2 billion pesos. Moreover, the bank will open P1 billion of its capital to OFWs for subscription and for them to become part-owners.
As for the status of the OFW bank, the LBP has already completed the valuation phase of the Postal Bank and is currently in the process of obtaining the Monetary Board’s approval for the conversion. Following that, National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon said that they are going to approach the Philippine Postal Corp. and negotiate on the price.
The tedious process will also involve having to secure necessary approvals from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Governance Commission for Government-owned and Controlled Corporations, Philippine Competition Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, before full operation of the bank.
How will the OFW Bank help OFWs?
The OFW bank is aimed towards making every remittance transaction, cost-free. Additionally, OFWs can also loan from the bank with zero interest. Come end of 2017, OFWs can bid the average 7.68% remittance cost and 5.2% average borrowing interest rate goodbye. The bank, as said by DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello, will be 30% owned by the OFWs. This will be helpful to the 2.4 million OFWs who send a collective amount of more than a trillion pesos every year to their loved-ones in the Philippines.
Making OFWs’ Lives Better
The President wanted to stay true to his promise of making OFWs’ and their families’ lives better. The remittance-and-interest-free measure of the OFW bank can allow for OFW families to be more flexible with their expenses for their needs like education, food or even investments.
The OFW ID on the other hand will play a key role as one of the major documents needed in transacting with the OFW Bank. The said ID is proposed to be an ATM card and will also be linked to SSS, Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth and other relevant government offices.
Yes, the projects are taking time and the government has yet to release updates, but the OFWs can be assured that the government is doing everything to make the OFWs lives more convenient as they work hard for their family. It may be impossible to envision ambitious projects now, but all we can do is to trust the government and let them do their job.