This post serves to answer the two other objections raised by the government regulators on the formation of an OFW bank which has been pushed by Vice-President Jejomar Binay since late 2010.
To refresh our minds, the government regulators objected to formation of an OFW bank, citing issues of “cost, redundancy, administrative and regulatory unwieldiness, and sending signals that discourage private sector competition which, they claimed, already benefits OFWs by way of driving down transaction costs.”
We took up the first two objections in a previous article entitled, “Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is.”
Now we take up the last two objections.
The Issue of Administrative and Regulatory Unwieldiness
Frankly, I find it difficult to figure out how the issue of administrative and regulatory unwieldiness comes in.
An OFW bank should operate like any other bank subject to the same Bangko Sentral regulatory requirements as any other. So where’s the unwieldiness here?
I can only surmise that this is related to the remittance non-issue and to the previous failed attempt to revive/rehabilitate or resurrect from the dead like a zombie the Philippine Postal Bank which supposedly shall serve as remittance channel for OFW remittances.
Hence, trying to set up branches as remittance channel in each one of the few thousand towns in the Philippine archipelago should be an administrative nightmare.
They are trying very hard to make an issue out of a non-issue. In the process, they would want to incur horrendous cost to solve a “remittance” problem that does not exist.
Leave the remittance issue to the private sector.
Solve the myriad problems of OFW economic reintegration by setting up a bank that specializes and serves the unique needs of OFWs on economic reintegration.
The Issue of Private Sector Discouragement
This one tops them all in absurdity and hardly needs any reply at all. There is absolutely no basis for such a sweeping assertion.
Just for the sake of discussion, this reminds me a few years back of private recruitment/placement agencies demand to abolish the recruitment function of POEA because it is “in direct competition with the private sector in contravention of the principle of free enterprise”.
It reflects the absurd heights at which some elements of the private sector want to reduce humans (OFWs) as ordinary commodities to be left entirely in the hands of free enterprise.
This objection also reminds me of a phrase which became famous during the impeachment trial of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. The phrase is “sui generis” which simply means a class by itself.
How does this relate to the objection?
Well, I dare say that if impeachment is “sui generis”, OFWs should also be considered “sui generis”, a class by themselves alone.
I can cite myriad reasons why OFWs should be considered so, not the least of which is that of keeping the economy afloat come rain or shine (perhaps this point should merit another post).
Admit it or not, OFWs are “sui generis” and should be treated as such by the government.
OFWs give far more than they get. They therefore deserve far more respect, attention and support than what the government currently affords them.
To say that the formation of an OFW bank tends to “discourage private sector competition” is a line of thinking that harshly and callously puts the economic welfare of OFWs hostage to the demands of free enterprise.
It is exactly the same kind of detestably callous thinking as those private placement agencies who say that POEA’s recruitment function is in direct contravention of free enterprise.
Please, give OFWs a break with this kind of thinking. This thinking plainly betrays a brazen lack of concern for the economic welfare of OFWs.
As a final point, let me reiterate that an OFW bank is far from a complete solution to the problem of OFW economic reintegration.
But it is a good start.