SEN. Juan Edgardo Angara on Saturday urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to invest their earnings in a Personal Equity Retirement Account (PERA), the country’s first voluntary retirement account with tax incentives.
The PERA Law or Republic Act 9505 is a voluntary and personal account specifically for retirement where OFWs can invest up to P200,000 annually.
Non-OFWs can only make a maximum contribution of P100,000 annually, said Angara, one of the authors of PERA.
“Our OFWs sacrifice a lot in leaving their families behind to work abroad in ordee to give them a good life,” the senator said. “This is why we encourage our OFWs to save and invest their earnings here in the country so they can secure a comfortable retirement and be with their families.”
Even if the OFW is abroad, his or her spouse and children can open a PERA account in behalf of the OFW, he said.
“It is true the most important investment of our OFWs is the education of their children. PERA will be helpful to ensure that our OFWs will have enough savings when they decide to return home,” Angara said.
Under PERA law, upon reaching retirement at the age of 55, all payments or distributions will be tax-exempt. This can be either in lump sum, a pension for a definite period, or for a lifetime.
Early withdrawals are allowed, if the investor has made contributions for at least five years but will be subject to a penalty—except in cases when the individual is totally disabled due to an accident or hospitalization.
“PERA investments have higher returns because it is a tax-free investment income. PERA supplements the social pension Filipinos can get from SSS (Social Security System) or GSIS (Government Service Security System),” the senator said.
A national survey on financial inclusion conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that only 11 percent of Filipinos save for retirement or old age.
Angara noted that PERA will help and encourage Filipinos save up for their “sunset years or for emergency medical situations.”
As of last year, the BSP has accredited Banco de Oro (BDO) and Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) as PERA institutional administrators.
PERA investments products include unit investment trust funds, share of stock of mutual funds, insurance pension products, government securities, and other financial products.