Recently, POLO-Dubai temporarily suspended new applications for the DOLE-AKAP where cash assistance of AED 730 will be given to OFWs affected by the pandemic. The reason for the suspension was due to “pending evaluation of applications received and subject to availability of funds.”
Many Filipinos in the UAE were disheartened by news update of the temporary suspension of new applications beginning April 21. But it is important to note that the budget allotted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has some limitations.
Based on the advisory shared by the DOLE, the total budget for the said initiative is 1.5 Billion Pesos and encompasses ALL overseas Filipino workers globally who are affected by the coronavirus.
1.5 Billion Peso Budget for Filipinos Worldwide Limited to Accommodate 150,000 OFWs
There’s over 648,000 Filipino currently in working and residing in the UAE. So imagine the number of applications the POLO-Dubai agency has been receiving in the past few days.
Based on a report from Gulf News, POLO-Dubai has received 25,733 applications and 4732 applications have been evaluated.
Here’s a post shared by Jinky De Guzman, a Filipina who received her cash aid as she was able to file early. It took 9 days for her cash assistance to be processed.
Computing the 1.5 Billion Budget
The cash assistance budget is (AED 730) 10,000 Pesos per distressed Filipino.
When we divide the total budget of Php 1.5 Billion by 10,000 Pesos, it means that the total number of Filipinos that can be accommodated is only 150,000.
In the Middle East alone, there’s over 2.22 Million Overseas Filipinos with over 648,000 Filipinos in the UAE.
Other POLO Offices in Middle East Countries also Suspend Applications
As of April 23 on POLO Abu Dhabi website, there is no news report where cash assistance applications in Abu Dhabi have been stopped. However, a few other POLO offices in other Middle East countries have also suspended the applications for financial assistance:
POLO-Bahrain suspended their on-site applications last April 18, due to the number of requests they received and taking into consideration the limited budget allocation for OFWs in the Kingdom and to avoid the potential collapse of their system. Here is the full post:
POLO-Kuwait has also suspended the applications after they received over 12,753 applications. In their advisory, they also mentioned that the allocated budget is only available for 10,000 OFWs. Here is the full post:
Call for Understanding
After sharing the news update about the applications, many Filipinos have posted their grievances over the suspension. Some have also aired their frustration and questioned the agencies handling the funds.
This is call for Filipinos to understand that POLO-Dubai is handling as much applications as possible and the budget allocated by DOLE (in the Philippines) is really limited.
They are also going over thousands of applications everyday so to those who have already submitted their applications before the suspension, please take time for them to respond as POLO-Dubai is handling 6 emirates in the UAE.
This is also a call for DOLE to re-evaluate the budget because based on the numbers, it is more than likely that there are more than 150,000 OFWs abroad that have been displaced by the pandemic.
I hope that this helps shed some light into the present situation from both sides and I hope that there will be further action that will be announced soon that will benefit the displaced OFWs. Please stay safe everyone!