Peso Sense aims to reach OFWs-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
MANILA -- In a bid to translate remittances to savings and productive investments, the Western Union Foundation launched on Friday its nationwide financial literacy campaign called “Peso Sense”.
The Western Union Foundation, together with the Western Union Agents Petnet and eBusiness Services Inc., pledged US$220,000 funding (about P9.4 million) for the two-year campaign aimed at overseas Filipinos and their families.
The firm said the goal of the Peso Sense or the Philippine Freedom Campaign is to improve financial literacy by promoting productive expenditure, greater saving and entrepreneurship among Filipino beneficiaries of international or domestic remittances.
The Philippines is said to be third largest remittance country after India and China.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported that remittances from overseas reached $21.391 billion in 2012, which accounted for almost 10 percent of the national economy.
But despite the strong inflow of remittances every year, BSP’s first quarter 2013 consumer expectations poll revealed that less than half or 42.5 percent of overseas Filipinos’ households in the country are allocating the remittances they receive to savings.
The Peso Sense campaign will be implemented by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, a government agency under the Office of the President. The program will also be overseen by the United Nations Development Programme Philippines (UNDPP).
Reach those abroad and at home
A World Bank study last year found that financial literacy is most effective when given to both migrants and their family members.
Research conducted by Ipsos and sponsored by Western Union revealed that majority of the overseas Filipinos, who number about 10 million Filipinos, remit money to fund regular expenses such as food, debts payments and education.
However, 64 percent are not satisfied with how beneficiaries are spending their hard-earned money due to the lack of financial acumen.
The study found out that nine out of 10 Filipino remitters agreed a financial literacy campaign would be beneficial.
The Peso Sense campaign targets students, young professionals, business owners, employees, homemakers and retirees. The program will cover topics based on three main pillars: introduction to financial literacy, planning and freedom; steps to financial freedom planning; and commandments of financial freedom.
The stakeholders will use traditional media and alternate channels including the social media, websites and audio-visual presentations to spread the campaign.
Toshihiro Tanaka, country director of UNDPP, said migration plays an important role in the country’s economic development, and that money sent home from Filipinos abroad should be translated to productive investments, not only consumption.
The UNDPP noted the remittances have the potential to play a large and positive role in national development, serving as fundamental investments that can produce a multiplier effect to drive greater and more inclusive local growth.
Tanaka noted that to attain inclusive growth, the government has to strengthen its financial literacy campaign in order to reduce poverty in the country. He said this move requires a transformation in mindset and behavior.
“Savings and investments have not been on the menu of the OFW families,” said Tanaka.
The financial literacy program began with a “Peso Sense at Christmas” module providing practical tips for Christmas.
Imelda Nicolas, secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), said the launching of the program is timely given that it is during the Christmas season where “overspending is as common as overeating.”
Patricia Riingen, senior vice-president for east and south, The Western Union Company, added they will also translate to various languages their campaign materials so OFW families can easily understand and relate.
The Peso Sense has also earned the support of the BSP.
Financial literacy penetration in the country remains low, and Dr. Felipe Medalla, a member of the BSP Monetary Board, said there is “room for growth.”
“Although financial literacy is now an old concept, we will make sure to make this more relevant and reach out to more people. We are leveraging on technology to be make the program more accessible,” said Riingen.
Medalla noted that while the remittances fuel growth in the economy and improve lives of Filipinos, the lack of financial education among the overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries will create a culture of dependency.
“They both need to be educated so they can plan well their future,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 19, 2013.