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SSS Calls on Members to Settle Delinquent Loans

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With the loan penalty condonation deadline on April 27, the Social Security System (SSS) is encouraging all members with short-term loan delinquencies to avail of the Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) which offers affordable payment terms and conditional condonation of loan penalties.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc said that a total of 487,278 members have benefited from LRP which has an equivalent collection of P2.89 billion as of February this year.

“Employed member payments amounting to P1.78 billion constitute for about 61 percent of the entire LRP collection while voluntary member payments worth P766.35 million represent 27 percent of the overall total. It only shows that the special program is highly recognized by member-borrowers as reflected on the collection performance,” Dooc said.

More than 22,000 self-employed members also availed of the LRP with an equivalent collection of P105.65 million. Meanwhile, nearly 30,000 OFW-members benefitted from the program with a total remittance of P234.91 million. In terms of geographical location, the National Capital Region (NCR) processed the highest number of LRP applications with 226,776 followed by Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao area with 141,224 applications, 52,498 applications and 49,126 applications respectively; while the foreign offices processed 17,654 applications.

SSS local branches that received the largest volume of LRP transactions as of end-January 2017 were Diliman, Davao, Calamba, Biñan and Bacoor. Meanwhile, foreign offices that facilitated the highest number of LRP applications were Hongkong, Riyadh and Dubai, where huge number of OFWs are located. Member-borrowers can still avail of the LRP until April 27 to provide financial relief to borrowers affected by natural calamities and disasters who struggle to pay their short-term SSS loans.

“We would like to remind other delinquent borrowers to apply for LRP before the prescribed deadline to avoid hassle from last-minute filing as well as to conveniently settle their financial obligations to SSS. If they failed to avail the LRP, the loan interest and penalty will continue to increase every month,” Dooc concluded.

To qualify for the LRP, the member should be residing or employed in any of the calamity areas declared by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) or the national government. The short-term loan must also be overdue for at least six months as of April 28, 2016.

Members can pay their overdue loan in full within 30 days with no additional interest, or apply for an installment payment term of up to five years with a minimal annual interest rate of three percent. (SSS/RJB/SDL/PIA-NCR)

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Finance

BOC Hits Highest Daily Collection in September

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has posted more than PHP3 billion in collection for two consecutive days last month – a first in the bureau’s history.

Based on the preliminary collection report of its Financial Service, the BOC on Sept. 28 and 29 collected a total of PHP3,316,889,000 and PHP3,193,804,000, respectively.

The figures are a milestone in the collection performance history of the bureau, the country’s second largest revenue-generating agency.

Likewise, the BOC achieved a total cash collection of PHP39.54 billion in September, regarded also as the highest cash collection achieved for a month, based on records.

“The Bureau is happy to report that we were able to make significant improvements in terms of collection. We were looking at the financial reports dating back to 2010, and our director for financial service, Cecile Soriano reported that indeed, this is the first in BOC history, even if we reviewed records farther back 2010,” Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena said in a statement.

Lapena attributed the improvement to a 20.92 percent increase in valuation compared to the same period last year.

The bureau, he said, was able to collect duties and taxes for September based on the total dutiable value of imports amounting to PHP420,204,629, compared to the assessed dutiable value of PHP347,504,895 of the same month in 2016, despite the higher percentage of non-dutiable value of 84.5 percent from the 81.2 percent in 2016.

Lapena has called on all district collectors, examiners and appraisers to apply the correct valuation instead of using benchmarking.

September figures also indicate a year-on-year increase of 14.71 percent in terms of volume of imports. In September 2016, there was a total of 8,504,422 kg. of imports while current volume posted amounted to 9,755,082 kg.

Preliminary collection report showed that despite the three non-working holidays in September, BOC achieved 96 percent of the total collection, collecting PHP40.15 billion against the monthly target of PHP41.75 billion based on the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing (BESF) target.

It was previously reported that the BOC needs to achieve a monthly target of PHP50.1 billion from September to December for the bureau to hit the full-year BESF target of PHP467.89 billion.

“We will try our best, and I am optimistic that we will be able to fully hit our target by year-end,” Lapena added. (PNA)

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UTrade Offers an Investing Opportunity for Cebuano Young Professionals

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The sooner you start investing, the more money you will have to live on as you age. Investing early allows you to develop disciplined spending habits by focusing on your budget and cutting expenses when needed. Investing helps you achieve accelerated financial success and will help improve your entrepreneurial skills at the same time.

The goal is to grow your money by investing rather than by saving your money in the bank. When you leave your money in your savings account, you can earn very minimal interest – but the growth of your savings account is not enough to outpace the rise in inflation.

You need to find ways to make your money grow without having to work longer hours. You do not have to work for years to raise capital for your business. Change your mindset and see things from an investor’s perspective – you can actually be a part-owner of a big company by investing in that company through the stock market because it only takes a little bit of money to get into investing, and anyone can start trading stocks online with UTrade.

Stock Market Investing with UTrade

Many Filipinos still have common misconceptions about investing in the stock market such as the belief that you need big capital and many are wary because of the risks involved. However, with UTrade, you will be equipped with the right tools and proper knowledge to start investing in the stock market.

Stock market investing is made easy by UTrade with its convenient, reliable, and user-friendly online stock trading platform which gives you direct market access, live stock information from the PSE, and personalized customer service characterized by a guided way of investing in the stock market.

UTrade gives you the option to trade in small amounts. With as little as Php 5,000.00, you can start buying stocks, until you feel you are more confident to trade with bigger values. UTrade provides a peso-cost averaging facility called the Stock Investment Program which is a good way for new investors to start investing in the stock market and can also be beneficial to you if you have no time to watch the market on a daily basis or are not comfortable with investing a big amount of money in just one go.

UTrade believes in financial empowerment and the importance of giving you the customer experience you want from platform to service. As a client, you are the main priority.

UTrade by Unicapital Securities, Inc. is licensed by the SEC and a member of the Philippine Stock Exchange. UTrade is not just a brokerage, it is part of Unicapital Inc. – a full-service investment house that provides a wide array of finance and investment banking-related product lines including underwriting of initial public offerings or IPOs.

Invest In U

To help more Cebuano young professionals and entrepreneurs adapt an investor mindset and become financially educated, UTrade provides basic workshops on how to begin investing in the stock market every Tuesday, 3:00PM – 5:00PM at the PSE Cebu Satellite Office, 2/F Insular life Building, Cebu Business Centre, Cebu City.

UTrade believes that investing is not just about making your money grow, but it is also about investing in yourself – your time, your health, travel, family and friends, and most importantly, your future.

Start now and take the first step towards your stock investing journey. Invest in UTrade, Invest in U!

Like UTrade by Unicapital Inc. on Facebook, or visit www.utradeph.com to know more about UTrade. You can contact our Cebu office at (032) 266-6241 or (+63908) 879-9754 or visit us at the PSE Cebu Office, 2/F Insular Life Building, Cebu Business Centre.

UTrade is the online stock trading platform of Unicapital Securities, Incorporated (USI). USI is a majority-owned subsidiary of Unicapital, Inc., a duly registered Philippine investment house that provides the full complement of investment banking products and services.

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Treasury Raises P70 Billion Through Issuance of New Retail Treasury Bonds: Targets Wider Participation Among Retail Investors

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Image Source: Bureau of the Treasury

The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) successfully raised P70.0 billion in its latest issuance of Retail Treasury Bonds (RTBs). The 19th Tranche of RTBs have a three (3)-year tenor and is available to the general investing public between March 28 and April 6, 2017 at minimum denominations of P5,000.

Strong demand for the 3-year security set the coupon at 4.25% with total tenders reaching P86.2 billion for a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.87. This prompted the Auction Committee to expand its offering from the initial announcement of P30.0 billion to accommodate market appetite.

“Now on its 19th issuance, the RTB has provided invaluable contributions and made a difference,” said National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon.

For the Government, it has evolved as a staple platform in the Government’s financing program, allowing us to achieve twin objectives of inward bias to take advantage of ample domestic liquidity and reduce foreign exchange exposure. At the same time, help inculcate good money habits by providing access to an affordable and secure instrument that yields favorable returns to help achieve one’s goals,” she added.

To promote the RTB offering, the BTr will be holding a series of roadshows in key cities throughout the Philippines:

March 28, DBP Bulwagan, Makati City
March 29, Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club, Lipa City
March 29, Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City
March 30, Baguio Country Club, Baguio City
March 30, Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu City
March 31, Quest Hotel, Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga
March 31, Seda Atria Hotel, Iloilo City
April 3, Mallberry Suites Business Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City
April 3, The Oriental Legazpi, Legazpi City

The BTr has tapped First Metro Investment Corporation and Land Bank of the Philippines as Joint Lead Issue Managers and BDO Capital & Investment Corporation, BPI Capital Corporation, China Bank Capital Corporation, Development Bank of the Philippines, and SB Capital Corporation as Joint Issue Managers for this RTB offering.

The RTBs will be available throughout the offer period through any of the 17 qualified selling agents, namely: Banco de Oro Universal Bank, BDO Capital & Investment Corporation, BPI Capital Corporation, China Banking Corporation, Citibank N.A., CTBC Bank (Philippines) Corporation, Development Bank of the Philippines, First Metro Investment Corporation, ING Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, Philippine Bank of Communications, Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, Security Bank Corporation, Standard Chartered Bank, and United Coconut Planters Bank.

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TUCP, FINEX Lead Groups for DOF Income Tax Reforms

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Image Source: Philippine Canadian Inquirer

Various organizations led by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Financial Executives of the Philippines (FINEX) and the National Tax Research Center (NTRC) are backing the “long-overdue” reforms in personal income tax (PIT) rates proposed by the Department of Finance (DOF) along with other measures to make the tax system simpler, more equitable and more efficient, especially for low- and middle-income taxpayers.

The DOF-proposed tax reform package, as contained in House Bill 4774 authored by Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, aims to lower PIT rates from the current 32 to 25 percent, except for the ultra-rich, and exempt compensation earners with a net taxable income of P250,000 and below from income taxation.

TUCP’s Arthur Juego said at a hearing of the House ways and means committee, which is chaired by Rep. Cua, that the labor group “welcomes the initiative of the government to reform the tax system, most especially the current income tax structure.”

Juego told lawmakers at the committee hearing that the proposed PIT reforms will “provide economic relief to workers who need to increase their take-home pay as the prices of basic necessities and services such as food, water, electricity, medicine, housing and transportation are constantly increasing.”

The Cua-chaired committee is tackling HB 4774 and more than 20 other pending bills seeking lower PIT rates.

FINEX president Benedicta Du-Baladad, for her part, said that that the organization, as a whole, fully supports HB 4774 because of its “features of progressivity, simplification and leveling the playing field.”

“For progressivity, we thought that re-bracketing the income brackets to make sure that basic income that is considered subsistence level, sufficient enough to cover the subsistence level of a certain individual or family, has been exempted,” Baladad said.

“On the other hand also, for the middle-income individuals that the tax has been reduced compared to those which are on the higher income [brackets],” she said.

NTRC Executive Director Trinidad Rodriguez noted that under HB 4774, the PHP250,000 threshold is net of de minimis benefits, mandatory contributions and the first PHP82,000 of the 13th month pay and other bonuses, “so effectively, what will be exempt in terms of gross compensation income is actually greater than PHP250,000.”

“So that will really benefit almost 99 percent of the compensation income earners in terms of reduced tax rates,” she said.

“We fully support the lowering of the personal income tax. This has been long overdue; it’s been [unchanged] for almost two decades. It’s just right that we reduce the tax rate and widen the taxable income brackets to address the so-called bracket creep, and this will also correct some of the inefficiencies and inequities in our present tax system,” said Rodriguez.

The Institute for Labor Studies (ILS), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) likewise expressed its support for HB 4774. Its OIC-Deputy Executive Director Brenalyn Peji said ILS is backing HB 4774 “as these are supportive of the legislative agenda of President Duterte.”

“The DOLE, in general, supports those bills that will promote the welfare of our minimum wage earners, and even those who are earning above-minimum wage,” Peji said.

She added that “the DOLE [is] one with the position of the DOF that a fairer, simpler and more effective taxation system will encourage or promote a more conducive environment for investments, which will eventually promote employment generation which can address our standing issues on unemployment and underemployment.”

The Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines informed the committee that it is also supporting HB 4774, particularly “the restructuring (of) the income brackets and the reduced tax imposed on income taxes.”

“[Our organization has for its members] the people who are employed mostly in hospitals and public health agencies and institutions, so we depend on the income from salaries earned,” said the group’s president, Dr. Adela Jamorabo Ruiz.

“We appreciate this creation of a tax system that is simpler, fairer and more efficient. We do hope that these reforms will be expedited considering that professionals are taxed heavily,” she said.

HB 4774, which represents Package One of the DOF’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), also provides for revenue-enhancing measures to offset the revenue erosion from the proposed cut in PIT rates.

According to DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, those earning between the above-minimum wage rate and PHP22,000 a month will pay zero tax under HB 4774.

The first PHP82,000 in the 13th month pay and other bonuses will be exempted from the PIT computation.

These PIT proposals will primarily benefit public school teachers, nurses, police and military officers, government employees, call center agents among other compensation earners in the public and private sector.

HB 4774, Chua said, will shift the tax burden to rich taxpayers.

Chua pointed out at the House hearing, though, that taxing the ultra-rich through their income is not enough because they comprise only less than 1 percent of the country’s individual taxpayers, based on BIR data. Those with a net taxable income of over PHP80,000 comprise only 3 percent of the individual taxpayer base.

The PIT reforms will lead to revenue losses estimated at P63 billion in the second half of 2017, PHP138 billion in 2018 and PHP152 billion in 2019, Chua said.

Thus, to raise enough funds for the Duterte administration accelerated spending on infrastructure, education, health, and social protection for the poorest of the poor, a set of revenue-enhancing measures is also included in HB 4774.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Duterte administration’s target is to ramp up spending on infrastructure to PHP1.73 trillion; on education and training to PHP1.27 trillion; on health to PHP272 billion; and on social protection, welfare and job generation for the poorest of the poor to PHP509 billion by 2022–for a total public investment budget of PHP2.2 trillion over the medium term.

Among the revenue-offsetting features of the bill are provisions expanding the value-added tax (VAT) base but retaining exemptions for seniors and persons with disabilities, and adjusting the excise taxes on automobiles and fuel, which will hit rich consumers the most as these are all consumption taxes.

Estate and donor taxes will also be reduced to a flat 6 percent under the tax reform bill.

HB 4774 also includes legislated administrative reforms at the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC) such as a fuel marking and monitoring system to prevent oil smuggling, the use of e-receipts, the mandatory connection of the point-of-sale (POS) system of all establishments to the BIR, and the relaxation of bank secrecy laws for investigating and combating tax fraud

Complementary reforms to HB 4774 include introducing a new tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, indexing the motor vehicle user’s charge to inflation, and granting an amnesty to past estate tax cases. (PNA)
FPV/DOF-PR/JAG/EDS

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