To further cater the needs of the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), President Rodrigo Duterte on January 18, 2018 has formally launched the Overseas Filipino Bank in Manila.

The unveiling is in line with the signing of the Executive Order No. 44 in September last year directing state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines to acquire the Philippine Postal Bank and convert it to the OFBank.

“I’m happy now that I have made my promise to you my kababayan overseas Filipino workers,” President Duterte said his speech during the launch.

Duterte underscored the government’s commitment to protect and uphold the welfare of the OFWs.

“Through the Overseas Filipino Bank, we gave back what is due our kababayan abroad through a bank especially dedicated to servicing their banking and financing requirements,” he said.

He as well thanked Secretaries Silvestre Bello III of Labor and Employment, Carlos Dominguez of Finance, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla as well as LBP officials for working hard to come up with a bank that would address the needs of the OFWs, who remain one of the economic growth drivers of the Philippines with total remittances reaching $26.9 billion in 2016 or 5.5 percent higher compared to the previous year.

“It would not be enough to pay tribute to a large segment of our society that is almost responsible and a constant factor in our GDP (gross domestic product),” Duterte said.

OFBank, a wholly-owned Savings Bank subsidiary of LBP, is dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the needs of OFWs. It will offer 15 banking products and services ranging from deposit, loans and investment to payment and remittance to OFWs and their beneficiaries.

Aside from Peso ATM savings, a time deposit and checking account, OFBank is also developing the Future Need Savings Plan to help OFWs develop the habit of saving.

OFWs and their beneficiaries can also apply for loans to build homes, start business and for emergency needs, and pay from abroad their SSS, OWWA, PhilHealth dues, insurance premiums, credit cards, telephone and water bills, housing and business loans, and even tuition fees.

For its domestic operations, the OFBank will operate through one NCR branch in Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila and through 423 LBP branches and extension offices nationwide.

Seamens’ remittances grew 5.1% in 2017

Meanwhile, money sent home by sea-based OFWs grew by 5.1 percent from January to November, 2017, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Personal remittances from Overseas Filipinos (OFs) reached US$2.5 billion in November, 2017 3.2 percent higher than the level posted in the same month in 2016.

This brought the cumulative remittances for the first 11 months of 2017 to US$28.2 billion, representing a year-on-year growth of 5.1 percent, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. announced.

The growth in personal remittances for January to November 2017 was supported by the sustained expansion of remittances from land-based OFs with work contracts of one year or more (3.7 percent) as well as those from seabased and land-based OFWs with work contracts of less than one year (5.1 percent).

Likewise, cash remittances coursed through banks rose by 2.0 percent year-on-year to US$2.3 billion in November 2017.

The top countries that contributed to the growth in cash remittances during the month were the United States (1.1 percentage point contribution) and Germany (0.9 percentage point). On a year-to-date basis, cash remittances at end-November 2017 totaled US$25.3 billion.

This represents a 4.0 percent increase from the 2016 level. Cash remittances from both landbased and sea-based workers recorded increments of 3.7 percent and 5.1 percent for January to November 2017, respectively.

The bulk of cash remittances for the first 11 months of the year came from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany, and Hong Kong. Combined remittances from these countries accounted for 80.2 percent of total cash remittances.


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