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PIA Press Release

Gov't earmarks P1-B for Fil-Expat Livelihood Support Fund, PGMA tells OFWs in Riyadh

Manila (5 February) -- The government has earmarked P1 Billion for the Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF), one of the safety nets for Overseas Filipino Workers displaced in the current global economic crisis, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced during her meeting with the Filipino community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on February 3.

The President said that the FELSF which is being administered by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), is supported by government lending institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

Under the FELSF, a displaced OFW may borrow up to P50,000.00 for him or her to start a livelihood project or business enterprise. The loan is available at a low five percent interest per annum with no collateral and is payable for over 24 months with an interest-free grace period of 80 days.

An OFW must first attend the free business courses on the production and management of their livelihood projects to borrow from the FELSF. These skills are important to an OFW with the ambition of transforming into an entrepreneur with a sustainable, income-producing project for the long term.

The loan requirements are OWWA membership; proof of displacement due to the global financial crisis; business proposal and a promissory note; and marital consent for married borrowers.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also announced the new government scheme to upgrade the skills of Filipino workers. The government's skills-retooling program for Filipino expatriate workers is going where the Filipino workers in foreign countries are, the President said.

Under the scheme, professional licensure examinations for Filipino in selected countries like Qatar, Hong Kong and now, Saudi Arabia, will be conducted to prepare OFWs for skilled jobs that command higher salaries, President Arroyo said.

The objective is to sustain the upgrading of the capabilities of Filipino workers, who are already the employees of choice in various countries for their honesty, industry, reliability and capability to easily learn new skills.

President Arroyo explained that under the government's retraining program, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) will conduct licensure examinations for Filipino professionals, who have yet to take the exams required for their profession, right in the country where they are working.

The idea is to enable the Filipinos professionals still without license to take the licensure tests without having to return to the Philippines for the examination. That way, professionals who pass the licensure exams will have better chances for promotion and getting higher salary, not to mention job security, the President said.

President Arroyo told the OFWs that back home, the government is pushing its skills-retraining program side-by-side with the creation of more jobs. She cited the ongoing retraining program for call center agents, welders, bakers and chefs for OFWs who have been displaced or those who would lose their jobs in the midst of the current global economic downturn. (PIA 8) [top]

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