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Financially troubled Metro seeks to borrow $220 million to cover loan


Metro officials want permission to borrow $220?million to cover a loan coming due in October, as the transit agency continues struggling under restrictions imposed last year after a federal audit found numerous instances of financial mismanagement.

At a time when some Washington-area officials have become increasingly skeptical of the way the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority handles its money, the agency’s chief financial officer plans to ask Metro’s board of directors on Thursday to allow him to seek the short-term loan.

Metro already is juggling several large, short-term loans, borrowed largely to make up for federal grant money that has been slow in arriving. The Federal Transit Administration, which completed the audit in March 2014, has been limiting Metro’s access to grant money until the agency fixes the problems described in the scathing financial report.

Tuesday, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) called a meeting between Metro board leaders and D.C. Council members in his office to relay concerns about how the transit agency’s financial troubles are being handled. And Wednesday, council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) hammered Metro leaders at a public oversight hearing, accusing the board of failing to hold individuals accountable for its financial lapses or to provide a “clear picture” of the agency’s financial state.

“It’s an incredible lack of management for such an important public agency. Yet no one seems to be held accountable for it,” said Silverman, a member of the council’s finance and revenue committee. She also described Metro as an agency “lurching from crisis to crisis.”

A Metro rider is seen through orange construction mesh near an escalator that was being repaired at the L’Enfant Plaza station on Wednesday. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post) Metro, which has faced renewed criticism since a deadly smoke incident in a subway tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza station Jan. 12, is already trying to persuade governments in the District, Maryland and Virginia to commit to providing the cash it needs over the long term to pay for new, safer railcars, as well as other badly needed improvements. If Metro obtains the $220?million loan, it would still need an additional $208?million to cover loans due later this year. It could tap cash reserves, obtain other financing or persuade some of its lenders to extend credit terms. In documents prepared ahead of the Metro board’s meeting Thursday, Metro staff said that despite cash-flow improvements, “pressures remain on the amount and availability of cash in the near term.” Metro’s total short-term debt amounts to $502?million, money that Metro Board Chairman Mortimer Downey said has been used primarily for building projects and improvements. Last month, Wells Fargo renewed an existing $75?million Metro line of credit through March 2016. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Wednesday that the transit agency expected to pay off “a significant part” of the remaining debt and was likely to seek credit extensions similar to what it obtained from Wells Fargo on only “a fraction” of the credit. Stessel did not provide specific details of the plan. Metro board leaders have said that they are seeking broad funding solutions within the jurisdictions that subsidize its operations and that it does not plan to increase fares or cut services to cover its costs.A Metro Silver Line train makes it way to Washington, passing another Metro train on a lower rail. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post) D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the city on the Metro board, said during Wednesday’s hearing that despite his concerns about Metro’s management, the agency needs the cash to expand. “If Metro just stays as it is, it will not fulfill the needs of our region,” said Evans, who led the hearing as chairman of the council’s finance and revenue committee. “We need a larger Metro. We need a Metro that goes more places, that has more cars to carry people.” Silverman, despite her criticism of Metro’s finances, espoused the same sentiments about the transit system’s future growth. But local government officials say they need reassurance that Metro is implementing the FTA’s recommendations to improve the agency’s financial practices before they authorize more funding. Metro’s own audit of its finances for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, is still underway and four months overdue. Acting General Manager Jack Requa told the council hearing Wednesday that the audit was on track for completion in April. “Until there is comfort that the financial management systems and processes are in order, the [chief financial officer] cannot recommend long-term borrowing or additional capital requests beyond safety needs for WMATA,” David Umansky, a spokesman for D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt, said later in an e-mail. Umansky said that DeWitt was at Tuesday’s closed meeting between council members and Metro board members, and that “he expressed his continuing concerns about the lack of audited financial statements and the need for WMATA to extend its lines of credit coming due in the upcoming months.” Last March, a federal review painted a troubling picture of the transit agency, questioning Metro’s management of billions of dollars in federal grant money. The review by the Federal Transit Administration found that Metro awarded millions in no-bid contracts, skirted contracting rules and overcharged the government. The problems led FTA to shut down the automatic flow of cash to Metro, instead requiring the agency to manually draw down grant money and comply with grant application procedures. The restrictions are likely to continue through fiscal 2015, according to Metro. Metro Board Chairman Mortimer Downey said Wednesday that even he had been surprised when he read the FTA report. “I take accountability for not knowing it was not done right,” Downey said in response to questions from Silverman. At the behest of members of Congress, the Government Accountability Office has begun its own audit of Metro. Silverman said in an interview after the hearing that Wednesday marked the first time she had heard “a sense of remorse or responsibility” when Downey spoke. But Metro board leaders during the hearing also painted a more positive picture of the agency’s financial recovery.

Requa said the transit agency was “performing to budget with almost $300?million cash on hand, with the ability to make timely payments” to employees and contractors.

Requa described the agency’s success in securing the $75?million credit extension from Wells Fargo. “Financial institutions have confidence in WMATA’s financial capacity,” he said.

Lori Aratani and Robert McCartney contributed to this report.

Abigail Hauslohner covers transportation and development for The Washington Post. Previously, she served as the Post’s Cairo bureau chief.

Paul Duggan covers the Metro system and transportation issues for The Washington Post.


ECB offers Greek banks more cash


BBC News – ECB offers Greek banks extra €3.3bn emergency cash

Prime Minister Tsipras: “We are not in a hurry and we will not compromise”

On Tuesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a vote in the Greek parliament on whether to scrap the austerity programme on Friday, the same day as the eurozone deadline.

“We will not succumb to psychological blackmail,” Mr Tsipras told parliament. “We are not in a hurry and we will not compromise.”

US investment bank JP Morgan claimed over the weekend that €2bn worth of deposits was flowing out of Greek banks each week. It estimated that if that were to remain the case, they would run out of cash to use as collateral against new loans within 14 weeks.

JP Morgan’s estimate is based on a calculation that a maximum of €108bn of deposits is left in Greek banks.

The most up-to-date figures from the Greek central bank show deposits dropped 2.4% month-on-month in December to €160.3bn from €164.3bn, marking the third consecutive monthly fall.

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What would happen if Greece left the euro? Grexit explained – in 60 seconds

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also chairing the Eurogroup meetings of eurozone finance ministers, warned on Monday night there were just days left for talks.

Mr Dijsselbloem said it was now “up to Greece” to decide if it wanted more funding or not.

Analysis: Theo Leggett, BBC business reporter:

The apparent deadlock in Brussels is hardly surprising, because the two sides have very different goals.

The Greek government wants to scrap the current bailout deal, because of the very painful programme of spending cuts and other austerity measures that come with it. Instead, it wants a bridging loan to help it meet its short term needs, while a new deal is hammered out. Having been elected on an anti-austerity ticket, it can’t afford to back down, or it will be accused of betraying Greek voters.

But other members of the eurozone, and Germany in particular, have a very different agenda. They want Greece to accept an extension to the current deal – with the rather uncertain promise of “flexibility” if it plays ball.

They don’t want to show any signs of weakness, because of the signal that could send to anti-austerity movements in countries such as Spain, Portugal or Cyprus.

It would also be politically toxic in Germany, where many voters dislike the idea that they are paying for Greece’s mistakes.

That doesn’t mean a compromise is impossible. It simply means any deal would have to be presented as both an end to the current austerity programme and a continuation of it. A political fudge, in other words – and Brussels has plenty of experience in putting those together. So a short-term solution is possible, but far from certain.

Key dates for Greece – and the eurozone

28 February – Current programme of loans ends

First quarter of 2015 – Greece’s funding needs estimated at €4.3bn by end of March

19-20 March – EU leaders’ summit

20 July – €3.5bn bonds held by the European Central Bank mature

20 August – €3.2bn bonds held by the European Central Bank mature

Greece has proposed a new bailout programme that involves a bridging loan to keep the country going for six months and help it repay €7bn (£5.2bn) of maturing bonds.

The second part of the plan would see the county’s debt refinanced. Part of this might be through “GDP bonds” – bonds carrying an interest rate linked to economic growth.

Greece also wants to see a reduction in the primary surplus target – the surplus the government must generate (excluding interest payments on debt) – from 3% to 1.49% of GDP.

In Greece last week, two opinion polls indicated that 79% of Greeks supported the government’s policies, and 74% believed its negotiating strategy would succeed.

More on This Story

Last night’s acrimonious breakdown of talks to refinance Greece presents Germany and other eurozone government’s with their toughest decision since the single currency’s creation in 1999.

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Fed ‘unlikely’ to raise rates soon

Officials at the Federal Reserve are unlikely to raise interest rates soon, the latest minutes from the bank’s January meeting have revealed.

Further fall in UK unemployment

Sony spins off video and audio units

Ukraine troops retreat from key town Further fall in UK unemployment Swiss raid HSBC’s Geneva office UK police examine Chelsea fans video Rise in Romania and Bulgaria workers

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Most Orlando luxury estate buyers come with cash in hand


The buyer who purchased Dwight Howard‘s estate in Seminole County last month wasn’t the Orlando market’s only luxury seeker to come with cash in hand.

The NBA star had three cash offers on his lakefront mansion, which sold last month for $3.4 million — $1.5 million less than the asking price.

Of the 20 Metro Orlando homes that sold for $2 million or more during the second quarter, 12 of them, or 60 percent, went for cash, according to a new study by the real estate research firm RealtyTrac. Nationally, 45 percent of buyers in that price range paid cash during the period.

Related Dwight Howard unloads Chateau D’Usse for $3.4 million Get text alerts on your phone! Pictures: Orlando power brokers Photos Pictures: Orlando powerhouse businesses Pictures: Closed for business: Orlando-area retail and restaurant closings Pictures: Notable chains make their way to Orlando See more photos » Topics Orlando Real Estate Homes Real Estate Buyers See more topics »

Regardless of how they are funded, the number of high-end deals has increased in the Orlando market. Reports from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association show that the core Orlando market, which mostly includes Orange and Seminole counties, had 156 sales of $1 million or more from January through July — more than double the rate five years ago during the real-estate downturn.

“The vast percentage of my high-end sales have been cash” for at least the past year, said Nancy Bagby, an associate for Fannie Hillman and Associates of Winter Park. “There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, we’re getting cash offers from people who know they can get a better deal if they don’t have a 30-day contingency on getting financing.”

Pictures: Orlando attractions that have closed

In addition, she said, cash buyers can avoid going through the appraisal process. Appraisers have come under fire from real-estate agents for various reasons — including being too conservative and being unfamiliar with neighborhood values, according to a 2013 survey of agents by the National Association of Realtors.

Anecdotally, real-estate agents say those buyers also “crowd-fund” by getting friends and family to loan them cash so they have a better chance of getting a contract in multiple-offer situations, said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. After the sale closes, they secure more traditional financing to repay their original lenders.

In markets such as Orlando and Miami, the high proportion of cash sales is also being driven by foreign buyers who are looking for a place to park some of their savings.

“The thing we hear the most from brokers and agents working with foreign investors is that the U.S. real estate market is considered a safe haven and, now that it’s coming off from a downward cycle, they also consider it a value proposition,” Blomquist added.

Wayne Weger, the listing agent on Howard’s house, said prospective buyers for the home on Markham Woods Road were all of Middle Eastern descent. But they weren’t looking for a safe haven for their money as much as they were seeking a place to enjoy their success, he said. Software entrepreneur Nisim Heletz purchased the 11,000-square-foot house.

Just as Orlando had a disproportionately high rate of cash deals in the upper end of the residential market, it also attracted plenty of cash for more affordable housing. For houses and condominiums selling for $100,000 or less, more than 80 percent of the buyers paid cash in Metro Orlando. The rates were 78 percent statewide and 67 percent nationally.

The number of cash deals is declining in Florida, however. In the four-county Orlando region, 52 percent of residential sales during the second quarter were cash — down from 56 percent a year earlier. The rate of cash buying declined similarly throughout the state but increased slightly across the nation. or 407-420-5538407-420-5538


Two-Thirds of Payday Loan Users Trapped in Cycle of Debt …

Image PR-Image-Payday-Loan-by-Duckie-Monster-614x279.jpg

Vancity one of the first to offer payday loan alternative

Vancouver, BC – A poll released today by Vancity indicates 67 per cent of payday loan users in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria are borrowing several times a year.

The credit union poll, which was conducted by Insights West, indicates 35 per cent took out a payday loan once a month or more. Having an unforeseen expense they didn’t anticipate (38 per cent) and getting behind on bills (37 per cent) are the main reasons why borrowers said they used payday loans. Another 22 per cent said it was because they had a debt that was due.

Today Vancity became one of the first mainstream financial institutions to launch an alternative to payday loans for its members. The new Vancity Fair & Fast Loan™ reduces costs for borrowers and helps them break the cycle of debt.

Under the Vancity Fair & Fast Loan, if a member borrowed $300 for the minimum term of two months and paid it off after two weeks, it would cost $2.20, which is 19 per cent annual percentage rate (APR). Under B.C. legislation, the maximum amount that can be charged for a $300 payday loan is $69, which would be 600 per cent annual percentage rate.

Members can borrow up to $1,500 and be approved in about an hour. And because borrowers have up to two years to pay back the loan, they can build their credit history in the process. The loans are relatively small and have more inclusive qualifying criteria so members with lower credit ratings have a better chance of being approved.

According to Consumer Protection BC, the provincial regulator of payday loans, more than 100,000 British Columbians took out 800,000 payday loans in 2013.

The Vancity poll indicates up to 60 per cent of payday loan users are somewhat or very likely to consider a short-term, same-day loan from a credit union. It also found 37 per cent of survey respondents carried a balance on their credit card, 23 per cent had to borrow money for an unforeseen expense and 22 per cent got behind on bills.

The poll was conducted among 990 Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria adults, which includes an oversample of 131 payday loan users.

“The Vancity Fair & Fast Loan is a low cost, long term alternative to help members get out of the cycle of debt and build their credit history,” says Linda Morris, Vancity’s senior vice-president of business development, member and community engagement. “It’s one of the ways we are working to enhance the financial well-being of those who have been underserved by mainstream financial institutions.”

Additional sources of information:

Insights West Vancity poll results snapshot, presentation and data tables
Backgrounder: Payday Lending in BC, Consumer Protection BC
Pay Day Lending: In Search of a Local Alternative, see page 15, Centre for Community Based Research and funded by the Wellesley Institute (2010)

About Vancity:

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 501,000 member-owners and their communities through 57 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $17.5 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Tweet us @vancity and connect with us on

For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394

Mario Canseco | Insights West
T: 778-929-0490

Photograph: Duckie Monster


New York – NY Gets Visa, MasterCard To Halt Debit-Based Payday …

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New York – New York’s financial regulators are working with Visa and MasterCard to stop illegal payday loans through debit card transactions.


The Department of Financial Services says they’ve reached agreement with Visa and MasterCard to provide information to card companies about payday lenders that are using debit cards to circumvent New York laws to recover loans.

Benjamin Lawsky, the department’s superintendent, sent 20 cease-and-desists letters to payday lenders accused of making or collecting payday loans from New Yorkers. Of the 20, Lawsky says, 12 appear to be using the debit card tactic.

Visa and MasterCard will work with DFS to stop processing illegal payday loans collected from New Yorkers or made in New York.

More of today’s headlines

“Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would seek a new law declaring Israel a Jewish state, striking back against a Palestinian…”“Yonkers, NY – Metro-North is running trains at slow speeds in the area of a mudslide in Yonkers for the morning rush. Heavy rains Thursday knocked out a pair of…” […]

Payday loan companies: Predators or providers of needed services

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 6:19 PM

Updated today at 6:20 PM

Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @thanh412

NEW ORLEANS – You’ll see them in many neighborhoods throughout Metro New Orleans. Payday loan companies are ubiquitous at many strip malls.

The “quick cash” agencies often promise fast money services including cash checking, money orders and loans. According to AARP Louisiana, the aging population is increasingly signing up for such loans.

“Some of these folks have to find ways to pay for their meds, how to pay for their food, I mean they have to stretch that dollar,” said Rafael Saddy, with AARP Louisiana.

In simple terms, payday loans offer a quick line of credit with quick cash advances. Critics of such payday lenders say the “simple” loans are often accompanied by outrageous fees and interest rates, which can put the borrower further in debt. AARP Louisiana recently lobbied Louisiana state lawmakers to cap interest rates on payday loans at 36 percent. Those efforts seemed to have failed as House Bill 766 advanced with no mention of interest rate caps which have been passed in other states including Georgia and North Carolina.

“Right now in Louisiana it’s about 400 percent, so that’s how borrowers really get caught in the cycle. Once they take out a loan, they have to take out another one to pay off the first loan. We at AARP think it’s a predatory practice by the lenders,” said Jason Tudor of AARP Louisiana.

Troy McCullen is the CEO/President of Finance America of Louisiana. He oversees more than 30 payday loan companies in the state. McCullen says to label lenders as “predatory” is unfounded. From McCullen’s perspective, the terms of the loans are clear and borrowers understand the conditions.

“Our fees, don’t compound, they don’t roll over they don’t grow and all of these things that are said,” McCullen said.

Had the 36 percent cap on interest rates gone through, McCullen claims it would have effectively shut down an industry that is providing families with financial services when all others have failed. According to the Office of Financial Institutions which regulates payday loan institutions in Louisiana there is a demand for the service. Last year, Louisiana residents took out 3,126,278 payday loans. From those roughly 3 million loans, borrowers paid $145,665,345 in loan fees and interest. The loans also caused checks to bounce. According to the OFI, payday lending was directly responsible for 154,227 bounced checks. The payday industry collected $2,552,974 in additional fees from those bounced checks.

“All the research shows, that 98 percent that use our service are happy, they like our service they don’t want us go away,” said McCullen.

There is one point McCullen and his opponents agree on, reform is needed. How exactly to balance consumer interests and those of the lending industry is unclear. Members of AARP urge anyone interested in pursuing payday loans to read the fine print before doing so.




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Shop for a loan before shopping for a car

If you’re shopping for a car loan, here’s some advice:

• Get preapproved for a loan before you walk into a car dealer. You’ll know how much car you can afford, and you’ll have a loan that you can compare to the dealer’s loan offer.

• Check out local credit unions — they tend to charge less than banks.

• Don’t fixate on the monthly payment. That’s important, but focusing on the payment alone can make you vulnerable to a long-term, high-interest loan.

• Opt for the shortest-term loan that you can afford.

Now for the details.

An uneducated buyer is putty in the hands of a car dealer. He’ll shape the financing to profit the dealership, not you.

“Dealers love to focus on the monthly payment. It gives them huge flexibility,” says Rob Swearingen, a lawyer at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri who defends poor consumers in auto loan cases.

For instance, they can get the monthly payment down by adding years to the term of the loan, while charging a higher interest rate. The consumer may pay a lot more over the long run, says Tammy Hampton, a vice president at Gateway Metro Credit Union.

“It could be a nine-year note at 10 percent interest, and they (the customers) don’t care. They only care about the monthly payment,” Hampton says.

So, a smart consumer shops for a loan and gets approved in advance. Hand the offer to the dealer and say, “Beat this.”

The St. Louis consumer has dozens of lenders to choose from. You can get a partial list at sites such as and or inside this business section. Take their advertised interest rates with caution. They’re often the best rates offered to people with very good credit. You may well pay more.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, surveyed 137 auto lenders around the country last fall. Credit unions offered lower rates, at 40 percent below the banks. Meanwhile, small local banks tended to charge more than the big national banks.

For a new car, auto manufacturers tended to offer the best rates of all, averaging 42 percent below the banks. However, cut-rate loans are often offered as an alternative to cash off the sticker price. Depending on the details, you might be better off taking the cash.

“Keep an open mind about where you’ll get your car and your financing,” says John Kiernan, senior analyst at WalletHub.

You can usually apply for a loan online for free with a verdict back in a day or less.

You might try several in search of a good deal. But do all your applying within a day or three. Credit scoring companies count the times your credit is checked by lenders. If they see a lot of checks in rapid succession, they’ll think you’re shopping for a loan and ignore it. If they see lots of checks over a prolonged period, they’ll think you’re in trouble and cut your credit score.

You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit agencies once a year at or at 1-877-322-8228. Check it for errors before you ask for a loan.

There are several moving parts in an auto loan — your monthly payment, the length of the loan, the fees and interest rate. Uncle Sam mandates a handy comparison tool for comparing loans — the APR, or annual percentage rate. That’s a measure of the loan’s price, including fees and interest, expressed as an annual percentage of the loan amount.

Under the law, the APR has to be disclosed to the buyer, but you may not see it until the final moments before signing. So ask for it in advance.

Opt for a short loan length if you can. It means a higher monthly payment, but less money lost to interest. On a $15,000 loan at 4 percent, you’ll save $632 in interest by opting for a three-year loan instead of five years.

A short payoff period may also avoid “gap insurance,” which might run $300 or more. That comes into play when the value of the car drops more quickly than the principal left on the loan.

This makes it tough to trade in the car for a better model. Worse, it could leave the owner on the hook should the car be totaled in a wreck. Auto insurance pays only the value of the car, not the amount you owe. Thus the need for gap insurance.

Swearingen’s law firm is a charity outfit. His clients are poor people, often with lousy credit. They find themselves stuck in subprime auto loans with interest rates of 20 to 25 percent. Such rip-off deals often contain add-on services that raise the cost even higher.

Some of those borrowers might well qualify for better loans than the dealership is offering — if they shop around.

But if a stinky loan is all you’re offered, consider a bicycle and a bus pass.

Save what you’d spend on a car payment until you have enough cash for a cheap, ugly clunker. Drive it until the wheels fall off.

Keep saving the car payment while you’re rattling along in your rustmobile. By the time the old beater gives out, you’ll have saved enough for a nicer car.

A $200 monthly car payment, saved in a bank for five years, will get you $12,500, and some reliable wheels.

The old-beater option is also a good move for young people just starting out.

Kiernan, 26, drives an ancient Volvo.

“Safe and cheap,” he says. “It gets me there alive and on time, and I’m cool.”


Phil Veterans Bank plans doubling of retail loan portfolio, launches mortgage loan promo


Phil Veterans Bank plans doubling of retail loan business

By: Maricel E. Burgonio,
March 12, 2014 4:52 PM means BUSINESS

MANILA – Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) plans to double its retail loan portfolio with the expansion of its mortgage lending this year.

“We’re trying to ramp up our retail loan portfolio,” said PVB president Joey Bermudez, adding that the bank had a portfolio of P2.5 billion last year, of which bulk went to government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and local government units (LGUs).

He said the bank is setting aside P2 billion for mortgage lending this year.

The lender launched a housing loan product — the Home Loan Free Home — wherein borrowers can avail of a cash-back guarantee on the principal loan at the end of the 20-year term. The promo offers a 100-percent return as long as the borrower meets the terms and conditions.

PVB is offering the mortgage loan promo from March 1 to May 31.

“A good product sells itself,” Bermudez said, adding that PVB’s new mortgage loan product is a unique investment and savings instrument rolled into one.

Eligible borrowers include homeowners with existing mortgage loans with other banks that have been outstanding for at least a year, as well as new homebuyers of residential house and lots, townhouses, or condominiums.

PVB offers an interest rate of 8.25 percent per annum for the first five years, for re-pricing every five years.

PVB closed last year with P6 billion in capital and with a network of 60 branches, 15 of which are in Metro Manila and 45 branches in areas outside the National Capital Region.

PVB has a 19 percent capital adequacy ratio (CAR), higher than the 10 percent regulatory minimum. means BUSINESS

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QC OKs loans for new grads looking for work

QC OKs loans for new grads looking for work

2:32 am | Monday, January 6th, 2014

The Quezon City Council has approved on third and final reading an ordinance that calls for new graduates and indigent job seekers to be advanced loans, which they can pay off once they find work.

The “Hanap na, Bayad Later (search now, pay later)” program provides a maximum cash loan of P2,000 to city residents who can use the money for their pre-employment requirements.

According to the ordinance introduced by Councilor Donato Matias, an initial P1 million will be allocated for the program, which will focus on graduate placement as well as profiling of job opportunities to help Quezon City residents who are underprivileged or have recently graduated. The program forms part of the city’s poverty-alleviation efforts.

Under the measure, beneficiaries can use the loan for the processing of their pre-employment documents and requirements such as working permits, medical certificates, National Bureau of Investigation clearance and other important papers.

Indigent constituents and fresh graduates of Quezon City may avail of the program by registering with the local Public Employment Service Office, which will issue access cards.

A beneficiary who has landed a job can pay back the loan through the following options: salary deduction, tagging in their renewal of a mayor’s permit and on an instalment basis (from four months, six months to a year).

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Cebu city mayor proposes cash aid for City Hall staff; Margot asks where money will come from

Cebu city mayor proposes cash aid for City Hall staff; Margot asks where money will come from

9:59 am | Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

After twin calamities that struck Cebu in October and November, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants to give a cash dole out to cheer up the city government’s 4,000 regular and casual employees.
Instead of calling it an”extra cash gift” for Christmas, he’s proposing P20,000 each as “calamity financial assistance.”
The amount will be charged to the P140.3 million Supplemental Budget No. 3 which he submitted last Friday for the City Council to include in its agenda for tomorrow’s session.
But where will the city get the money to fund SB3?
“We have to know if we have actual funds available to pay the assistance,” said City Councilor Margo Osmeña, who heads the budget committee.
The summary of appropriations signed by Rama and budget officer Nelfa Briones cited P64.5 million in savings from “interest expense” of the city’s loan with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for the implementation of the South Reclamation Project now known as the South Road Properties (SRP).
Another P45.9 million is identified from savings from the city’s “gain/loss on foreign exchange” while the remaining P29.9 million will come from personal services savings.
Councilor Osmeña, however, was skeptical.
“I do not even know whether such an account exists (for interest expense and gain/loss on foreign exchange). Where is this under the city’s General Funds?,” she asked.
Last week, Gov. Hilario Davide III announced the approval of a P20,000 cash gift and a sack of rice for the Capitol’s regular staff, which raised expectations of counterparts in City Hall who look forward to a Christmas bonus.
Councilor Osmena said she wanted to know why this year’s cash gift to employees is called “calamity assistance” when not all employees were affected by the earthquake or the typhoon.
Last year, the Cebu city government released a P12,000 as extra cash gift for its 4,200 regular and casual employees and P10,000 in 2011.
Rama’s P140 million Supplemental Budget NO. 3 will be presented on first reading on Wednesday, the the last regular session of the City Council before they go on Christmas break.
But Osmeña said they may have to hold a budget hearing and special session after Wednesday’s session to work on SB3.
“Whichever will be feasible, this (the calamity financial assistance) will have to be available before Christmas barring any circumstance,” said Rama.
Rama said the City Council would have to answer to employees if they don’t approve the cash aid before going on Christmas break or reduce the P20,000 he’s proposing.
“Mas maayo pa mopuno sila,” he said. (It would be better if they increase the amount.)
OIC City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas said job order personnel don’t qualify for the cash assistance because “they do not have an employee-employer relations with the city.”
Members of City Hall’s Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (Praise) committee passed on December 11 a resolution recommending to Mayor Rama the release of P20, 000 calamity assistance to employees following the October 15 earthquake and the November 8 typhoon Yolanda.
Rama used this as basis for the P61.1 million outlay for the aid in SB3.
The mayor also reintroduced in his SB3 a total of P48 million for allowances of judges and law enforcers, NBI agents, police and firemen assigned in the city and another P6.3 million for the payment of terminal leave benefits to 27 City Hall employees.
The allowances and aid to the judiciary was included in his SB2 but the council opted to forgo the appropriation because of lack of a valid fund source for the purpose.
Rama is also asking P16 million in SB3 to pay for the salaries of Job Order personnel assigned in the city’s garbage disposal program. /Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters

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