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OWWA suspends pre-departure loan program for OFWs

First Posted 22:07:00 05/04/2008

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MANILA, Philippines--The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has suspended its pre-departure loans after incurring an estimated P70 million in losses.

"We granted P70 million in loans to overseas Filipino workers, but only 30 percent have been paying us," Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said in an interview.

Roque said the Department of Labor and Employment had originally allocated P100 million for the program.

He said OWWA also tried to collect payment from the co-makers of the borrowers. Instead the agency heard the OFWs were not going to repay their P40,000 loans since the OWWA already collected a $25 membership fee from them.

"While it is stipulated in the Migrant Workers Act of 1995 that the OWWA should allocate pre-departure funding for OFWs, the mere fact that it failed to recover the investment is enough basis to discontinue the project," Roque said.

He said OWWA gave OFWs and their co-makers one year to repay their loans at minimal interest.

"At the moment, OWWA is in the process of going after the borrowers to recover the P70 million," Roque said.

He clarified, however, that despite the loss, the agency remained financially stable.

The DoLE chief said the current total assets of the OWWA stood at P10.2 billion, of which P8.2 billion was in various investments while the rest was being used for worker welfare assistance programs such as livelihood projects, scholarships, training and repatriation funds.

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