banking finance

SSS members get P2.6-B unemployment insurance benefits

September 27, 2021

THE Social Security System (SSS) has so far provided about 196,000 members of its pension fund a total of PHP2.62 billion in unemployment insurance benefits, most of it released during the pandemic.      Finance Secretary and Social Security Commission (SSC) chairman Carlos Dominguez III said PHP2.35 billion or 90 percent of the cash grants under the SSS unemployment insurance benefit (UIB) program were released during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic period from March 2020 to June 2021.       In his letter to the Senate, Dominguez said 173,791 out of the total of 196,021 SSS members who availed of the UIB received them during the pandemic period as of June this year.       “Implemented effective March 2019, the UIB program is among the key institutional responses of the SSS to the Covid-19 pandemic for its affected members since March 2020. From March 2020 until June 2021, the SSS has paid out P2,354.33 million in UIB, and this has benefitted 173,791 members,” Dominguez said in his letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.       His letter was in response to the query of Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares, one of the vice chairpersons of the Senate finance committee, regarding the provision of financial assistance to unemployed workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.       The inquiry was made during the Sept. 9 briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) on the proposed National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2022 to the Senate finance committee chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara.       Angara and Poe were furnished copies of Dominguez’s letter.       Under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, Dominguez said the UIB shall be granted provided that the separation or involuntary unemployment of the members was a result of any of, but not limited to, authorized causes of termination of employee, including redundancy, retrenchment/downsizing, and closure/cessation of operation; just causes for ending employment relationship; economic downturn; natural or human-induced calamities/disasters; and other analogous cases.        Amid the pandemic, the SSS has made it easier and more convenient for members to apply for UIB claims by allowing applications online through the My.SSS member portal in the SSS website, Dominguez said.       The SSS also started using electronic payment systems in releasing the UIB and other benefit claims in line with Dominguez’s instructions for the pension fund to digitize its system to speed up the grant of loans and benefits to its members.       Under Section 14-B of RA 11199, a member who is not over 60 years of age and who has paid at least 36 months of contributions, of which 12 should be within the 18-month period immediately preceding the involuntary unemployment or separation, shall be paid benefits in the form of monthly cash payments equivalent to half of his or her average monthly salary credit for a maximum of two months.       As an example, Dominguez said that if a member’s average monthly salary credit (AMSC) is at P16,000, he or she may receive a two-month UIB cash benefit amounting to P16,000 (or P8,000 for each month), subject further to eligibility conditions and submission of supporting documents, including the certification from the Department of Labor and Employment on the employee’s involuntary separation.      Under the law, an employee who is involuntarily unemployed can only claim the UIB once every three years.        In case of the concurrence of two or more compensable contingencies, RA 11199 states that only the highest benefit shall be paid, subject to the rules and regulations that the SSC may prescribe. (PR)

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OFW remittances seen to rise as more economies reopen

September 27, 2021

GAINS in the vaccination program of countries where overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are, along with economic recovery around the world, are expected to further boost remittance growth in the Philippines.       The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Wednesday reported a 2.6-percent year-on-year growth of remittances last July to $3.167 billion, while year-to-date expansion stood at 6 percent to $19.783 billion.       In a report, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said last July’s remittances growth is surprising and “impressive given that this was the highest non-December level recorded with the funds sent home in July matching that which is usually sent home during the Christmas season.”       “Secondly, the higher dollar amount also surprised us as OFs (overseas Filipinos) had in the past opted to send home less remittances whenever the peso tends to weaken as exchange rate dynamics help beneficiaries cover peso needs with less dollars sent home,” he said.       The local currency closed at the 49-level on Wednesday, but it has weakened to the 50-level these past days on growth concerns due to the pandemic, among others.       “In the coming months, we can expect remittance flows to sustain their upward trajectory with OFs still finding a way to help support domestic consumption,” Mapa said.      He said with job losses remaining up and the economy still weak, OF remittances is expected to accelerate to pick up the slack and boost local spending.       “Sustained OF remittance flows coupled with the recovery in BPO (business process outsourcing) receipts will help offset the widening trade deficit and limit the impact on the country’s current account,” he added.       Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort believes that with some OFW-host countries reaching or at near community-level protection against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), demand for OFWs and remittances growth will increase further.      Ricafort said remittances being sent to the Philippines have been “somewhat defying the pandemic” as a lot of OFWs are economic and medical front-liners, which he described “a sign of resilience/bright spot/greenshoots.”      He said continued reopening of more economies, especially the hard-hit sectors like leisure, travel, and tourism, would require more workers, thus a plus for OFWs.      “Continued growth in OFW remittances would support recovery in consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of the economy, as well as supporting recovery of the country's GDP (gross domestic product), as consistently seen in 2Q (second quarter) 2021,” he said.      The country’s balance of payment (BOP) position and gross international reserves (GIR) are also expected to benefit from the sustained resiliency of OFW remittances.       However, Ricafort said risks remain on account of more contagious Delta and Lambda Covid-19 variants, among others. (PNA)

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Credit 101: Tala shares smart ways to handle your loans

September 20, 2021

Using loans for budgeting daily expenses, business and other investments can sound challenging, especially when not used to it. But credit, when handled smartly, can in fact be helpful when managing expenses or building up a growing credit score. The question is: How smart are you at handling your own loans and finances?      As a member of the FinTech Alliance committed to fair and ethical lending, Tala shares four habit-forming tips to help you get a grasp of your loans and finances:       •    Borrow only what you need. Plan for your loan and assess what you need the credit for. Make sure to separate wants and needs. The Tala app can lend you money, whether it is for tuition fees, a new device for work, or even the week’s groceries. Apply and get a decision in minutes to loans from PHP1000 to PHP 15,000 with reasonable interest rates at either 11.4% or 15.2% depending on the repayment period.       •    Assess how much you can pay. Check how much you can pay back in a timely manner by keeping track of your cash flow or how much funds are coming into and out of your finances. Sources of income such as work, business, and side hustles should be considered.      •    Use the right tools to track your finances. Applying for loans is made easy with the right tools. To make matters more simple, keeping a budget tracker can help you make sure that you not only get to set aside money for expenses like timely loan repayments, but that you avoid overspending too. When it comes to paying on time, simply check the Tala app to easily view loan deadlines.      •    Borrow money conveniently and grow with a trusted financial partner. With the Tala app, you only need an Android smartphone and one valid ID. First-time users of the app can quickly borrow anywhere from Php 1,000 to Php 2,000. By consistently making loan payments on time, you can then eventually borrow up to Php 15,000. These loans can be cashed out in as little as 24 hours through padala center locations nationwide including 7-Eleven, Cebuana, M Lhuillier, and even through one’s own bank account or through the Coins.ph.Tala also provides free financial education, offering access to robust libraries of tailored educational content and in-person & online communities to help Tala users connect and learn from each other.      Tala loans empower you with flexible financial access and the opportunity for growth. Whether you rely on Tala on a regular basis to supplement your income or you simply want to increase your access to credit to prepare for a rainy day, you can count on Tala to help you build financial security and agency.      “At Tala, we aim to help our fellow Filipinos manage their daily expenses and finances. Through the app, we hope they can get the loan they need securely in their time of need. We’re not a simple loan provider – we strive to be your financial partner and help guide you through the ups and downs of managing your finances” says Angelo Madrid, Managing Director of Tala PH.      Tala, a global financial technology company trusted by 6 million worldwide in enabling and accelerating financial health, expanded to the Philippines in 2017 and now has 1.6 million Filipino customers. To start your journey, visit the Google Play Store now to download the app and learn why it has over 1 million 5-star reviews globally by clicking https://app.adjust.com/amz13dt.

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Goal to have 70% of adult Filipinos with bank accounts doable

September 20, 2021

DOING financial transactions amid the pandemic-related movement restrictions boosts opportunities for the central bank to hit its 70-percent target in the number of adult Filipinos with bank accounts by 2023.      In a virtual briefing on Thursday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said registration for the national identification (ID) or the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), which requires registrants to have bank accounts, as well as the whole-of-government approach in addressing issues on financial inclusion, are pluses to the achievement of this goal.       “I’m optimistic that the 70 percent target for 2023 is doable for (these) three reasons,” he said.      Based on the BSP’s financial inclusion survey in 2019, only around 29 percent of Filipino adults had bank accounts.       Diokno attributed the big jump in the number of account ownership last year to the digitalization of financial transactions.       He said basic deposit accounts (BDA) last year rose by 65 percent, or from 4 million to 6.6 million, while electronic money (e-money) grew by 94 percent from 17.9 million to 34.7 million during the same period.       “We use BDA and e-money accounts as proxy indicators given that these types of accounts are typically opened by those who were previously unbanked,” he added.       The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has teamed up with the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) for account enrollment of those applying for national ID who do not have bank accounts.       Diokno said around 5.3 million Filipinos have opened bank accounts in line with the national ID registration.      He added the distribution of the government’s pandemic-related cash aid also helped increase the number of e-money accounts by around 4.5 million.       Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2018, Republic Act 11055, or the Philippine Identification System Act, aims to establish a single national ID for all Filipinos and resident aliens.       The national ID shall be a valid proof of identity that shall be a means of simplifying public and private transactions, enrolment in schools, and the opening of bank accounts.      It will also boost efficiency, especially in dealing with government services where people will only need to present the PhilID during transactions. (PNA)

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BSP's accommodative stance to boost PH recovery

July 26, 2021

BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno has highlighted the need to keep the central bank’s accommodative stance to boost economic recovery, after citing the improvement in domestic activities as the government eases movement restrictions.       In a virtual briefing for the 2021 second quarter inflation report, Diokno said average inflation in April to June, although still above the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band, decelerated to 4.3 percent from the previous three months’ 4.5 percent.       He attributed this to the impact of non-monetary interventions to address domestic supply constraints on pork, among others, which was hit by the African swine fever.       Diokno said this development is expected to result in a within-target average inflation rate this year, which monetary authorities forecast to be around 4 percent.      He said the smaller growth contraction in the first quarter of this year, at -4.2 percent from quarter-ago’s -8.3 percent, may be traced to the “government’s calibrated approach in mitigating the transmission of the virus.”      “Higher frequency indicators of domestic demand also suggest a recovery in economic activity with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions,” he said, but added that risks remain because of the emergence of more transmission variants of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).       Diokno thus stressed the need to keep the current monetary policy stance “in order for the economic recovery to gain more traction.”       “Keeping an accommodative stance shall also help counteract risk aversion among banks, which continues to temper lending activity despite ample liquidity in the financial system,” he added. (PNA)

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Banks still open to loan restructuring amid pandemic

July 26, 2021

BANKS continue to understand the plight of their borrowers amid the pandemic, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said, citing resolutions on complaints filed with the central bank.       In a virtual briefing on Friday, Diokno said while requests for debt collection and restructuring of credit card loans accounted for only 3 percent of the nearly 12,000 consumer complaints in the first half of the year, almost one-third, or 31 percent, “were resolved in favor of the consumer.”       He said 32 percent of the total “are still for evaluation and coordination with the clients while 21 percent are still awaiting action or reply from the concerned financial institutions.”       Complaints that were not resolved in favor of the consumers were about 13 percent, he added.       Diokno said these numbers show that banks and the borrowers “do their direct coordination, (and) find common ground in negotiating their obligations.”      He said banks are “largely open for consideration.”      “Even with the current difficulties experienced by their clients, concessions given by banks to their clients include waiver or reduction on fees, interest, and penalties; implementing a more favorable payment scheme; providing options, especially for payments made through post-dated checks and auto-debit or auto-deduct arrangements; and granting extensions or adjustments of loan maturity,” he added. (PNA)

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