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Landbank’s electronic loan program breaches P1-B mark

Government employees have embraced a new lending program that disburses cash electronically, which gives thousands of people across the country access to safe and cheap financing.

State-run Land Bank of the Philippines, one of the country’s biggest financial institutions, said that outstanding loans from its paperless credit system for government workers breached P1 billion last month.

Dubbed as Mobile Loan Saver (MLS), the facility allows public employees to take out salary loans from the bank. Loan proceeds are disbursed through electronic “wallets” that are linked to employees’ mobile phone subscriptions.

“The loan take-up has exceeded our initial projections,” Landbank president Gilda Pico said in a statement.

She said that through the facility, government employees were able to enjoy low interest costs, quick loan processing turnaround time, convenience and security. This helped workers who were “grappling with high interest rates slapped by loan sharks,” she said.

It offers a low interest rate of 0.83 percent a month, or about 10 percent effective interest rate annually.

More than 2,000 loan applications have already been approved with an average loan size per borrower of P144,000. In terms of geographical location, Metro Manila residents accounted for more than half of the borrowers, followed by Luzon at 20 percent. Visayas, and Mindanao accounted for 11 percent each.


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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Tags: graduates , Hanap na Bayad Later , loans , ordinance , Philippines – Metro , Quezon City

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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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CASH FROM CLIMATE CHANGE| Insurance to pay farmers based on excessive rainfall, dry spells


CASH FROM CLIMATE CHANGE| Insurance to pay farmers based on excessive rainfall, dry spells

By: Robert JA Basilio Jr.,
November 25, 2012 4:19 PM

Climate Change Commission Vice Chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering (center) says that the weather index insurance will eventually strengthen Philippine food security. BERNARD TESTA/
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philipppines – Excessive rainfall, prolonged dry spells, and/or above-average wind-speeds will soon entitle Filipino farmers to receive cash under a newly-proposed insurance program.

Instead of just receiving compensation for crop and/or yield losses — which involve claims that may take months before payment — farmers and fishers can also benefit from the Weather Index Insurance scheme, the Climate Change Commission said on Friday during the program’s launch in Quezon City.

Based on the scheme, farmers, organizations, and cooperatives covered by the program will receive compensation once a weather index is triggered, and not when actual losses are reported. These triggers can take the form of above-average rainfall, wind speeds, and/or number of dry days.

As a result, those affected by these weather conditions — mostly farmers and fishers — will receive compensation automatically in their bank accounts, allowing them to further strengthen their financial capacity to deal with effects of climate change.

“The weather index insurance scheme will also fortify the Philippines’ food security,” Climate Change Commission Vice-Chair Mary Ann Lucille Sering said.

The weather index insurance was proposed by the commission together with the UK nonprofit Oxfam and the Manila-based Institue for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

Farmers covered by the scheme will no longer be required to file claims nor wait for insurance inspectors to receive payouts, which observers say can take as long as six months.

After all, the insurance scheme pays cash based on “a weather index that is highly correlated with actual losses” and not on traditional indemnification insurance, that is currently being implemented by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC).

The WII “is beneficial to small farmers because they don’t have to spend a lot of time traveling to town centers to file and follow-up the processing of insurance claims, in contrast to the prevailing practice in indemnification-driven insurance,” Sering said in a statement.

Currently, two microinsurance providers offer weather index-based coverage to farmers—MicroEnsure Philippines and the Coop Life Insurance and Mutual Benefit Services (Climbs).

MicroEnsure’s crop-based weather index insurance package provides protection against drought and risks faced by farmers during continuous dry or wet periods. Its typhoon index insurance also provides coverage against intense winds.

Farmers who wish to avail of MicroEnsure’s weather index insurance will need to pay anywhere from five to 10 percent of the insured value of their crops per hectare. The cost of insurance premium is estimated at P1,500 per season if the rice yield per hectare is P30,000.

For its part, Climbs offers Natural Catastrophe insurance, providing coverage to loan portfolios of cooperatives and microfinance institutions. Its weather index insurance pays out to coops once windspeeds and/or rainfall in their areas breach levels already defined for municipalities of its 2,000 coops nationwide.

Climbs’ premium rate is 3.5 percent of the cooperative’s loan portfolio.

In the event of payout, Climbs said that the cooperative may choose to use the amount to provide emergency and immediate rehabilitation to their members or use the cash to build their own emergency calamity funds.

Despite the steps taken by both MicroEnsure and Climbs, a lot still needs to be done to help farmers and fishers struggle with the effects of climate change.

“The government should cut documentary taxes on insurance products,” William Martirez, Microensure’s Philippines country manager said.


PDIC seeks to turn P59B assets into cash

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC) wants to turn some P59 billion worth of acquired assets and loan receivables into cash in the next few years.

PDIC president Valentin Araneta said the liquidation of these assets and going after loan receivables are its priorities.

The state-run deposit insurer acquires the assets and liabilities of banks ordered closed by the Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas

Of the total P59.07 billion, P44.34 billion are loan collectibles acquired from banks, while the rest are physical properties from banks.

PDIC said it will use the proceeds to boost its deposit insurance fund and to pay debts of shuttered banks to its creditors.


Philippines Chief Justice hid '98% of cash': House prosecutors

The Philippines Chief Justice Renato Corona concealed 98 per cent of his financial assets in clear violation of public trust and of transparency provisions of the Constitution, House prosecutors said yesterday in closing arguments at his impeachment trial.

By Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas’ summation, Corona did not report 180 million pesos (US$4.12 million) in hard cash kept in various bank accounts, referring to the sum of the $2.4 million the Chief Justice deposited in four banks and the 80 million pesos ($1.83 million) in commingled funds in three others.

Corona declared only 3.5 million pesos ($80.183) in cash and investments in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) for 2010.

Farinas accused Corona of resorting to “palusot (lame excuses)” in attempting to explain his failure to include the deposits and high-end real properties in his SALNs.

“The Chief Justice engaged in a buying spree (of expensive real estate) beginning 2004. He did not declare these in his SALN until 2010. We have a new President by then that’s why,” said Farinas, the second speaker assigned to deliver closing arguments against Corona.

The House prosecutor added that Corona’s actions left more questions than answers.

For example, if he earned so much from his dollar investments, why did Corona have to sell a property to his daughter Carla for 19 million pesos ($435,280)?

Why did the Chief Justice need to borrow P11 million from the proceeds of the sale of a parcel of land owned by Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc. (BGEI) to the city government of Manila? BGEI is owned by the family of Corona’s wife.

Why did he once have a car loan of 300,000 pesos ($6,872)?

If Corona earned so much from his dollar investments, why did he not use this to buy a car in cash?

Farinas also noted that Corona had told Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that he started investing in dollars “in the late 1960s” when the peso-dollar exchange rate was purportedly P2:$1.

Farinas said Enrile even made a clarificatory question, asking Corona whether he started investing in dollars in the early or late sixties.

Farinas said the P2:$1 rate prevailed from 1948 to 1959.

“The Senate President knew the exchange rate then. He was undersecretary of finance from 1966 to 1968,” Farinas said.

Corona graduated from Ateneo High School in 1966, from college in 1970 and from the Ateneo law school in 1974, the prosecutor said. The 1969 exchange rate when Corona was in college was already P3.90:$1, according to Farinas.


The lawmaker said the Chief Justice “wants us to believe that when he was in Grade 4 in 1959, he was such a visionary that he already started buying dollars.”

“It’s clear that it’s palusot and lying to the Senate,” he added.

Farinas said Corona’s other excuses included:

That the impeachment complaint against Corona was the House of Representatives’ effort to support President Aquino’s attempt to get back at the Chief Justice for the Supreme Court decision awarding Hacienda Luisita to farm workers;

That the Foreign Currency Deposits Act (FCDA) absolved him from declaring his dollar accounts;

That the Chief Justice commingled his cash with that of his children.

Skirt of FCDA

Farinas said Corona could not hide under the skirt of the FCDA, or Republic Act No. 6426, since only banks, not depositors, were bound by its confidentiality provision.

Besides, RA 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, also provides for the disclosure of assets “such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds and the like,” the prosecutor said.

“Even cash kept in a baul (trunk) or bank should be declared in the SALN. Even if a defense witness insists that there is no other official who declared his dollars in his SALN, the amount can be converted into pesos. You don’t have to say it’s in dollars. The Chief Justice is making excuses using RA 6426,” Farinas said.

He reiterated earlier warnings from critics of Corona that the latter’s use of the FCDA to hide his dollar deposits could provide an idea to the rest of public officials who want to hide their deposits.

“What violation of RA 6426 if the Chief Justice rightfully declares his cash? He owned up to the $2.4 million on hindsight because he was caught. Even if he bought dollars at P2:$1, he could not have accumulated that amount,” he added.

Farinas wondered why Corona took out a car loan of 300,000 pesos ($6,872) when he was able to amass a huge amount. “Why borrow when he claims he has millions?”

The prosecutor then zeroed in on Corona’s peso deposits.

Farinas said Corona claimed that he was not obligated to declare in his SALN the 80 million pesos ($1.83 million) in commingled funds because these were not solely his. “Why were the deposits in his name? These could be deposited in joint accounts,” the lawmaker said.

He also wondered whether Corona was converting his pesos into dollars. How come the savings sent by his US-based daughter Charina to the Philippines was part of the commingled peso account? “Should her savings not be in dollars?” Farinas asked.

“It’s confusing… The dollars his daughter in America earns are converted into pesos? If he has 80 million pesos ($1.83 million), why not exchange it for dollars?” Farinas asked.

“It’s really difficult to make excuses. We tend to contradict ourselves when we do not tell the truth,” he added.

Dividing wealth

Farinas noted that Corona put on record that he had two heart bypasses. This, he said, should mean the Chief Justice should be more aware of his mortality and start considering dividing his assets among his children.

Instead, Corona is the one who receives funds from his children, purportedly to add these to the commingled funds. “That’s because it’s not really commingled. It’s just an excuse,” he said.

Farinas also took note of Corona’s declaration that he and wife Cristina would rather invest their earnings in dollars because they were not in the habit of buying real estate.

“He said, ‘we as a couple do not buy real estate.’ But why did they sell a property to their daughter? Carla has lots of money! A house and lot were sold to her for P19 million,” Farinas said. “Clearly, it was a palusot.”

Farinas also noted that the Chief Justice’s P11-million loan from BGEI was a mystery considering his huge peso and dollar deposits.

“If the Chief Justice has that kind of money, his family and his wife’s relatives should not be fighting over BGEI,” the prosecutor said.

Cristina is still embroiled in several court cases with her cousins in connection with BGEI assets. Her conflict with some Basa cousins was highlighted at the height of the impeachment trial.

Farinas asked the Senate impeachment court not to waste House efforts in pinning down Corona for betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution.

The law requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate members, or 16 votes, to declare Corona guilty of an impeachable offense before he can be booted out of office.

“Let’s not pass up the chance to [convict] Chief Justice Corona. The House and the Senate should be in sync. Otherwise, all will be for naught,” he said.

“If the Senate wants to remove (an impeachable official) but we (House members) do not file a complaint, there’s no case. The House has the sole power to file an impeachment case. We did that and we proved the sin of Mr. Corona,” Farinas said.

“If an ordinary Supreme Court interpreter can be removed for nondeclaration of a market stall and we don’t remove Renato Corona, our nation will be destroyed,” he warned.

Farinas said Corona should be removed as Chief Justice of the Philippines. “It would be the greatest disservice to allow him to stay any minute longer,” he concluded.

Lead prosecutor

Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr., House lead prosecutor, said no amount of “denial, no lame excuse whatsoever” could negate the fact that Corona’s SALNs did not “truthfully or accurately” reflect his true material worth.

And even when he included his high-end properties to his SALN in 2010, the report did not reflect the acquisition value of these.

“The Chief Justice declared only their fair market value for taxation purposes, which does not serve the purpose of, and has nothing to do with, the computation of net worth in the SALN,” Tupas said in his opening remarks.

Fantastic tale

The lead prosecutor added that Corona had “woven a fantastic tale in his desperation to explain his incredible wealth.”

Tupas said it was Corona himself who penned a decision, Republic v. Sandiganbayan and Ferdinand E. Marcos, stating that when an official’s assets are grossly disproportionate to his source of income, then the excess is prima facie ill-gotten.

Tupas blasted Corona for insisting that the FCDA granted absolute confidentiality to his deposits.

“This interpretation of the law is very disturbing. We beg to disagree based on the law itself and the principles of public accountability . . . . The SALN requirement . . . addressed to government officials . . . requires them to declare all their assets . . . and makes no distinction between peso and foreign currency cash assets, in the spirit of transparency and good governance,” he said.

Tupas also accused Corona of “peddl(ing) his position of power in exchange for material gain. It has led us to the truth that his loyalty does not lie with the Filipino people.”

“On the whole, it has led us to the truth that he is in public service not to serve his country but to serve his own ends,” he added.


Africa looks to China for loans

Accra, Ghana (China Daily/ANN) – Emerging countries can now look to China and other new economic powers for development cash, said a leading African politician. […]