Vice President Noli ensures continued focus on housing

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE bicameral conference committee approved Monday the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009, reinstating in the final version a provision that commits the institution to invest in housing.

Both the Senate and the House panels accepted the proposal of Vice President Noli “Kabayan” De Castro, Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC) to include a key provision stated in Republic Act 7742, the 1994 law that amended the original Pag-IBIG Fund Charter.

The said provision mandates the Pag-IBIG Fund “to invest not less than seventy percent (70%) of its investible fund to housing…”

Senator Edgardo Angara, who chaired the committee, said that the provision had been inadvertently left out in both the Senate and House versions of the bill.

Vice President De Castro pointed out the omission after the Senate passed its version of the bill.

The Vice President, who attended the bicameral conference, maintained that the provision should be retained “to ensure that, with the latest amendments to the Pag-IBIG charter, the Fund will still continue to provide funding support to the housing sector.”

“The main idea behind the law is to strengthen Pag-IBIG as the main source of funding for shelter finance in the country. It is therefore necessary to reiterate in the new law that the bulk of its investible funds should still go to housing. Otherwise, we defeat the purpose of amending its charter in the first place,” he said.

Committee member Rep. Eduardo Zialcita supported this, commenting that “the raison d’etre of Pag-IBIG has always been housing,” and should still be its “primordial objective” under the new law.

The law exempts Pag-IBIG from paying taxes, empowers its Board of Trustees to set contribution rates, and allows the Fund to implement a competitive compensation plan to retain and attract employees.

The committee agreed to adopt the Senate version of the bill, with the amendments.

The new Pag-IBIG law is expected to help boost the national economy by increasing the funds available for housing.

The housing sector has a high multiplier effect, with every peso invested resulting in a P16 input to the economy.