MANILA, AUGUST 23, 2010 (MALAYA) BY AMADO P. MACASAET - The Department of Finance is in the thick of studies involving a proposal to sell still undetermined amount of dollar bonds to be sold exclusively to Filipinos residing in the United States.

A source in the DoF said Loida Nicolas Lewis, widow of an American millionaire businessman, has been tapped to get in touch with Filipino professionals in the East Coast to sound them out on the bonds.

The finance officials are said to be thinking about five to seven year maturity but have not figured out the yield of the sovereign liability. Apart from Filipino professionals working in the US, the bond is also intended for ordinary workers and other holders of white collar jobs.

The source in the DoF pointed out that the Aquino government has a duty to help Filipinos working abroad, particularly in the United States, make a little more income from their savings.

In the works is a plan that makes the bond look like a retail operation. In which case, the sources said, the minimum investments can be as low as $55,000 to $10,000.

He explained that the bulk of about four million Filipinos working in the United States with their families do not remit that much money to the Philippines.

Their savings are not producing a yield. Buying the bonds, he said, will provide Filipinos in the US an investment outlet that is completely safe because they will be buying the sovereign guarantee of the Republic of the Philippines.

The bonds will be available to Filipinos who have acquired American citizenship but have remained loyal to their mother country as proven by purchase of retirement homes in the Philippines.

According to the source, an American financial intermediary will help sell the bonds after permission is obtained from the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

Another source in the private sector told Malaya Business Insight that the bonds will ride on the credibility of the Aquino administration.

The proceeds of the bonds are initially targeted for the retirement of early maturing foreign debt of the Philippines. However, the proceeds may also be used for the construction of more classrooms in the public school system although the source said there is money for that purpose from official development assistance given by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and other soft loan sources.

He said he was told that the average per capita income of Filipino overseas workers is an incredible $50,000 a year.

This in turn, he said, has created a huge demand for apartments or condominiums that in turn is creating a property boom.

This was confirmed in a separate interview by Andrew Tan who was built more than 200 condominiums buildings with more than 10,000 units.

Tan said they have all been pre-sold and delivered to the buyers.

Statistically, the Philippines ranks poorly in the Southeast Asian region.

Its foreign debt is 45 percent of the gross domestic product. On the other hand, Singapore has only 2 percent. China has 8 percent.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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