OWWA vows more flexible loan programs for OFWSBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has vowed to make the government’s loan assistance program for overseas Filipino workers more flexible by easing requirements and application procedures.
“We’re [finding ways to make it] more flexible and accessible to OFWs. We are making adjustments in procedures and requirements in response to reports that some are finding it hard to avail of the loan assistance,” OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon said.
Dimzon clarified reports that the OWWA was asking for too many requirements that make it difficult for OFWs to avail of the program.
“It’s not true, we have to clear that. The OWWA actually almost [does] not ask for any requirement. We just check with our database if they are members, active or non-active. Then we will provide them with certification, saying they are OFW or former OFW, which they have to show to Land Bank,” she said.
“If they will avail of the loan on behalf of the member, they just need authorization. And then, of course, they have to undergo training on financial literacy, which only takes a day,” she added.
Under the P2-billion reintegration program, the OWWA offering loans for OFWs, especially displaced or distressed workers, who decide to come home for good and put up or expand an existing business in the country.
OFWs may apply for business capital loans ranging from P300,000 to P2 million from the P2-billion Reintegration Loan Fund offered by the Land Bank of the Philippines and guaranteed by the OWWA.
The loan is principally non-collateral but Dimzon explained that the evaluator of the loan application requires the borrower to submit proof of confirmed market purchase or a list of mortgageable assets for loan security purposes.
“But our OFWs and their families should also understand that their business proposal will have to be closely scrutinized,” she said.
She explained that the proposals that should show proofs of the viability of their business in line with the program’s aim of helping OFWs find sustainable alternatives to overseas employment.
Dimzon said they have been meeting with Land Bank and the Department of Agriculture officials to expand the program by including agribusiness opportunities for returning OFWs.
To date, Dimzon said more than 700 OFWs have already availed of the loan assistance amounting to more than P500 million.
“We intend to expand the program so that more people can benefit from it. We continuously improve it. We are very much aware of the feedbacks, therefore we regularly adjust our procedures when it comes to requirements to response or address the observation of the public,” she said.