A vague vision no more

September 20, 2018

For most people, retirement is a given, the rich reward for a lifetime of work.

It is virtually the pot of gold at the other end of life’s rainbow.

For others, however, retirement is a dreadful prospect, crowded by financial uncertainty and insecurity.

By institutional flaw or personal oversight, retirement can be a bleak, hazy, vague vision of tomorrow.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s all in the planning. Financial planning, that is.

When it comes to retirement, people are usually short in discipline and planning mainly because only a few think about retirement at an early age then face the reality of retirement without a retirement plan.

This is where the Personal Equity and Retirement Account or PERA comes in. PERA is a voluntary retirement savings plan that encourages individuals to save and plan for their retirement while enjoying tax incentives both from the amount contributed and the income from investments.

Any Filipino, of legal age, earning income locally or from abroad, and with a Philippine Tax Identification Number (TIN) is eligible to open a PERA.  An individual may invest up to P100,000, and for those living and working overseas, up to P200,000 per year.

As PERA Contributors, one would receive the following benefits through PERA:

1.  Income earned is tax exempt;

2.  Annual contributions are eligible to a 5% tax credit, subject to issuance of BIR regulation;

3.  Upon reaching 55 years of old and have made at least 5 years of contributions, PERA withdrawals are not subject to income tax; and

4.  In the event of the untimely demise of the Contributor, the PERA funds are not subject to estate taxes.

PERA, being a voluntary retirement plan, allows anyone to make all the investment decisions, giving them control over their retirement goals.

BDO Unibank, being the first accredited PERA Administrator in the country, helps Filipinos reach a wealthier retirement through PERA. The Bank now offers PERA through its BDO Invest Online, so individuals can invest conveniently for a comfortable retirement. To know more, visit www.bdo.com.ph/PERA.

***

Bundle too heavy to handle?

Yeah, sure.

It was just acting on a fiduciary capacity.

PedXing got mail from the Manila Electric Co.—the sweetest smelling private electricity-distribution utility in the world.

Meralco wrote to say essentially that PedXing has fallen short of the power retailer’s reckoning of the latter’s ability to pay its monthly billings on time and in the right amount.

Never mind that yours truly always settles its monthly billings ahead of due date, and its payment records in recent months would bear this out.

In so many words, Meralco insisted that the money would not go south of its deep pockets because it is not for the company to keep. It was only acting as a collecting and forwarding agent for the government which mandated the required deposit or bond.

By so indicating that it was merely collecting the money on behalf of a government regulatory agency, Meralco was suggesting that it was not making a killing from the whole exercise.

But who is to blame the power-consuming public for believing otherwise?

It is common knowledge that private corporations and financial institutions earn a bundle by turning tiny tributaries of what passes for loose change into mighty streams of cash via short-term or even just overnight placements in the tried, tested, and highly profitable money market.

PedXing is not inclined to even imagine that the electricity retailer is doing this although it is largely unacknowledged fact of common corporate business practice.

Meralco serves 6.5 million customers in a franchise area covering 9,685kms, that includes the core of the country’s premiere commercial and industrial region.

Just to give you an idea of how much money is being moved here, just multiply 6.5 million by P1,000, and that is just the additional theoretical bill deposit to be collected.

It was not made known how long the utility firm is allowed to keep the deposit funds before remitting or placing into the account of the Energy Regulatory Commission—that is, if the remittance is made at all.

The actual total bill deposit varies according to the consumption pattern or record of each household.

Anyway, here is what Meralco sent. Read on and get an idea of what PedXing is talking about:

Dear valued customers.

In our effort to keep you updated about policies and guidelines relating to your electric service, we would like to inform you of the recently implemented Bill Deposit Update Program.*

The bill deposit is an amount required from costumers of distribution utilities as a guarantee for payment of electric bills. It is equivalent to your average monthly bill and earns at a rate prescribed by ERC.

We have reviewed your billing history and compared your existing bill deposit plus interest earned with your average monthly bill for the twelve months.

Our records show that your bill deposit plus the interest earned** is no longer sufficient to cover your average monthly electricity consumption. As such an additional bill deposit shall be required from you in the amount P1,326.75 broken down is follows:

Bill Deposit and Interest Earnings:

Bill Deposit                                             P3,089.76

Plus Interest Earned             P4.64

Total Bill Deposit with Interest earned     P3,094.40

Bill Deposit Update

Average Monthly Bill

(AUG 2017 to JUL 2018)                       P4,421.15

Less: Total Bill Deposit                            P3,094.40

Additional Bill Deposit to the collected    P1,326.40

To provide you with a more manageable payment plan, the required additional bill deposit shall be collected in 12 monthly installments. It will be reflected as an additional item in your bill starting next month.

Installment/month (Month1 to Month12) P110.56

We are also pleased to inform you that you will have the opportunity to refund your bill deposit in full if you are able to pay your monthly bills on or before the due date for three (3) consecutive years.

We shall notify you once you have achieved this good payment record.

For inquiries, you may call the refund hotline at 632-8888 or the nearest Meralco Business Center. Thank you for giving as opportunity to be of service to you

Sincerely,

Meralco

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.