Overseas Pinoys told to save and invest for retirement years

File photo: Women OFWs at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait

Overseas Filipinos (OFs) received guidance on saving and investing for the future during the second episode of the Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) webinar series organized by the Philippine Trade and Investment Centers (PTIC) in Bangkok, Dubai, Jakarta, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Singapore, and Sydney last July 2, 2021.

In the presentation, Sarah Padilla, bank officer under the Economic and Financial Learning Office of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), shared useful financial tips to help OFs pay debt and increase their savings. Padilla stressed that financial security is not the responsibility of OFs alone, but their families back home should also take part by saving 10 percent or more of the money they receive and use it as capital for business.

Overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) households set aside a third (33 percent) of remittances for savings, 17 percent for debt payments, and only 6 percent for investments, according to the BSP’s latest Consumer Expectations Survey.

The BSP presentation also featured the Personal Equity & Retirement Account (PERA), a voluntary retirement savings program that Filipinos may avail through any of the three accredited PERA Administrators—ATR Asset Management (ATRAM) Trust Corporation, Banco De Oro (BDO) Trust and Investments Group, and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Asset Management and Trust Corporation. Tax benefits unique to PERA include a 5-percent annual tax credit on total contributions, tax-free earnings from PERA investments, and tax-free distribution (i.e., PERA investments are not subject to estate tax). The maximum annual contribution is P100,000, but OFs can invest up to P200,000 per year into various investment products.

Francis Fellone, overseas remittance officer of Asia Pacific, LandBank of the Philippines, walked OFs through the process of opening an Overseas Filipino bank (OFBank) account. An OFBank account can be opened from any place in the world, allowing OFs to pay bills and transfer money to their loved ones back home.

Fellone also shared details about the OFW reintegration program, which aims to provide business opportunities to OFs as an alternative to overseas employment. Under the business loan program, eligible OFWs can borrow to start or expand franchising, agricultural and non-agricultural production, construction, service/trading, transportation, and other viable projects.

Atty. Oliver Leonardo, officer-in-charge of the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the Securities and Exchange Commission, discussed basic investment scams and encouraged OFs to be vigilant before giving up their hard-earned money.

OFs should check if companies offering investment schemes have a certificate of incorporation and certificate of permit from the SEC to sell securities. The agent or salesperson should also be licensed and the product itself should be authorized by concerned government agencies.

“Anyone with money to invest is practically a target.  At hindi biro ang mabiktima ng scam,” said Atty. Leonardo. “Gaya ng lagi naming paalala, mag-imbestiga, ‘wag maging biktima.”

During the Q&A session, the OFW audience raised location-specific questions about LandBank accredited remittance centers and asked for a consolidated list of blacklisted investment enterprises. OFs also asked to expand existing government savings programs to a greater number of digital platforms, specifically adding LandBank to the list of PERA administrators. Cryptocurrency was also a topic of interest for OFs, but government speakers advised caution in parking their money into these volatile investment instruments, especially since cryptocurrency investments are not endorsed by the BSP.

Over 200 participants attended the Zoom webinar. The simultaneous Facebook Live video also drew significant interest, reaching 3,200 people and garnering 1,300 views.

The TNK Webinar Series will run for the whole year and feature high-level speakers from the government and private sector as part of a dedicated effort to capacitate overseas Filipinos in key areas of entrepreneurship. The next episode on franchising is scheduled on October 2021.

For more information about the TNK Webinar Series, follow the DTI FTSC Facebook page.

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