Solon pushes for incentives, benefits for OFWs

Posted at 06/29/2014 3:43 PM

MANILA -- A lawmaker has filed a bill granting financial incentives and benefits to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to encourage them to put up businesses or engage in entrepreneurial activities.

House Bill 4283, filed by Marinduque Rep. Regina Ongsiako Reyes, aims to provide OFWs and their immediate family members unlimited and preferential access to financing from government financial institutions at rates below the market rates.

OFWs and their immediate family members may also avail of the income tax holiday for the first five years of their business. They are also qualified for a 50-percent reduction from income taz.

Another 50 percent can be availed on real property taxes to the local government unit where the real property used for business purposes is located.

Reyes said the government should recognize the contributions of OFWs in helping the country's economy to flourish and grow.

"One way for OFWs to invest is through the establishment of new businesses, specifically, small businesses, also known as micro small and medium enterprises or MSMEs, whose objective is to maximize profits," Reyes said.

At present, Reyes said the government programs are clearly insufficient to encourage the OFWs to invest their hard-earned money in the country and assist in attaining financial stability to facilitate their reintegration and improve the quality of their lives.

"The government should encourage OFWs to make investments and undertake positive action to uplift the quality of their lives, and it may do so through government intervention, with the help of LGUs and even NGOs," Reyes said.

The investment incentives may be availed only when the established business is related to education, food, goods consumed by the general public, or established with the intention of boosting the Philippine tourism industry or will showcase Filipino heritage and culture, or used for establishment of facilities intended for retirement.

The proposed bill provides another 20 percent reduction on the required national, local or business taxes, if the place currently used by the OFWs in their business will be converted into a business establishment.

It also requires the local government units, with participation of the various government agencies such as, the Department of Trade Industry, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Social Security System, Pag-Ibig Fund, Philippine Health and Insurance Corp., and the Securities and Exchange Commission, among others, shall establish a one-stop-shop business processing centers to facilitate an expedient means of registration and eliminate red tape.

To ensure that the benefits provided are effective and maximized, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the National Reintegration Center of OFWs and the Technical Education and Skills Development shall institutionalize the conduct of financial literacy programs and capacity building seminars on entrepreneurship and investment programs for the OFWs and their immediate family members.