New development plan seeks financial services for OFWs

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) will be a matter of state financial policy under the Philippine government’s growth plan for the next six years.

A set of presentations containing excerpts from the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan (PDP) have OFWs included in Chapter 5 — “Financial Sector” — with a strategy of promoting “financial inclusion and equitable access to financial services.”

The PDP, which has yet to be released to the public, outlines the socioeconomic development targets of the country and how government plans to achieve these.

Excerpts from Chapter 5 showed the government would “promote greater financial literacy in the countryside and OFW-rich areas abroad through enhanced NGO and public-private partnerships.”

One draft of the PDP — there are several since President Benigno S. C. Aquino III’s government began work on it in 2010 — included local government units in “financial education programs.”

The draft as of January 2011 and sent via e-mail by a nongovernment organization (NGO) also noted that a “holistic financial education approach is critical” in promoting financial literacy.

The Aquino government’s decision to include OFWs in a chapter on financial policy was in contrast to how past administrations treated overseas migration in their respective growth plans.

Previous medium-term PDPs, such as those under former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, contained a chapter on labor and employment, which included the OFW sector.

The 2011-2016 PDP mentioned labor and employment in Chapter 2, albeit emphasizing attracting investments to generate jobs. The Aquino government’s treatment of OFWs in its PDP however is “limited,” said the Scalabrini Migration Center.

International migration, the SMC said in its recently released online study, “is treated in a limited way” in the MTPDP, and “has yet to be integrated and mainstreamed in national development planning.”

Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Chairwoman Imelda Nicolas said in a World Bank-sponsored forum abroad that the commission and migration and development stakeholders provided inputs in the chapters on the macroeconomy, financial sector, and social development.

Ms. Nicolas said the inputs in the macroeconomy chapter included harnessing remittances for development and supporting local government units to channel remittances to community development; and for the financial sector, a comprehensive data on remittances and mechanisms for the maximum developmental use of remittances.

For the chapter on social development, Ms. Nicolas said her office recommended mainstreaming migration and development in national and local development planning and using a community-based monitoring system in local development planning and mobilization of remittances.

A draft of the PDP assumes a “steady inflow of remittances from migrant Filipinos.” It also assumes that “Overseas Filipinos (OFs) have been looking for investment opportunities in the Philippines.”

It recommends that the national government (NG) “structure the issuance of debt papers earmarked for long-term funding needs.”

“The NG should be indifferent to this structure because it is similar to an ODA [official development assistance] structure except that funding is from OFs.”

The provision is seen as a response to clamor from various sectors to harness remittances for development. — Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, OFW Journalism Consortium

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