By Erma Edera
A comprehensive financial literacy program for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that will provide lessons on responsible handling of personal finances and managing resources was launched by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and BDO Foundation on Monday.
Dubbed as “PiTaKa” or Pinansyal na Talino at Kaalaman, the program aims to equip OFWs to better manage their remittances, to get out of debt and to set aside savings.
It also targets OFW families to sensitize them on the temporary nature of overseas employment, and encourage them to support their loved ones by spending wisely, saving regularly and constantly looking for ways to augment their family income.
BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. commended the new OWWA-BDO program as a “dream come true” for BSP to provide financial-literacy programs to OFWs – something they have been aspiring for since 2015.
“As remittances consistently account for 10% of the Philippine GDP, OFWS are indeed modern-day heroes. Yet we continue to hear stories of OFWS facing financial struggles. The PiTaKa program aims to change these sad stories into ones with happy endings— OFWS and their families living together in the Philippines, with the capability to sustain their financial health, and productively contrinute to the national economy”, Espenilla said.
According to Chuchi Fonacier, Deputy Governor of BSP, 35.5 percent of the OFWs save a portion of their salary, while 5.1 percent of them invest their money on business.
“If the OWWA-BDO program becomes fully implemented and successful, it is expected to lead to $2.6 billion worth of savings from OFWs and their families,” Fonacier said.
“This partnership helps to have a unified approach in providing financial education to OFWs and their families,” she added.
OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said that the campaign will complement the existing and current financial initiatives of the government and private sector.
“We will put emphasis on values formation, forming new and better financial behaviors and developing positive attitude in dealing with money. It is about time that we change our cultural perspectives about money,” Cacdac said.
Cacdac said that most common business ideas for returning OFWs are retail, agriculture, machine shops and manufacturing of local products.
“Since not all OFWs can be entrepreneurs, they can also take up trainings to make them more employable,” he added.
He said that BSP will be partnering with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) to monitor and guide the beneficiaries of their new financial literacy program.
Meanwhile, BDO Foundation President Mario Deriquito said they are expanding the scope of their advocacy through a corporate citizenship initiative that benefits millions of migrant workers and their families in the Philippines.
“We hope other partner institutions will help expand access to financial literacy program materials as well as disseminate them through other platforms like social media. Technology can help bring financial literacy materials to undocumented OFWs,” he said.
A memorandum of agreement on the implementation of the program was signed by the officials of OWWA and BSP, and BDO Foundation’s trustees on Monday at the BSP Assembly Hall.
Around 200 stakeholders of the OFW community also witnessed the signing ceremony and watched the three videos with financial literacy lessons and images.
The videos will be used as tools in the financial literacy sessions to be incorporated in Pre-Departure Orientation Seminars (PDOS) and Post-Arrival Orientation Seminars (PAOS) that all OFWS will be required to attend.
It will also be used during the general orientation for the OFW families to ensure the effective delivery of financial literacy lessons.
The tripartite initiative is part of the government’s efforts to promote financial inclusion and contribute to the country’s economic growth.