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SEC steps up financial literacy campaign to protect public from scams

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In photo: Atty. Emilio Benito Aquino, CPA, Chairperson and CEO of the Securities and Exchange Commission
Photo collage by THEPHILBIZNEWS

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has tapped 18 institutional partners, which include fund managers and investment houses, to expand the reach of its financial literacy campaign that aims to encourage Filipinos to place their money in safe and secure investments while continuing to protect the public from fraudulent “get-rich-quick”  schemes and other scams. 

SEC chairman-CEO Emil Aquino said its 18-member campaign network includes its pioneer partners Philippine Stock Exchange Inc. (PSE), Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Clark Development Corp. (CDC), National Youth Commission (NYC), Philippine Investment Fund Association (PIFA), Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Association of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice (ACPAPP).

Its network also has new partners that include the  Fund Managers Association of the Philippines (FMAP), Good Governance Advocates and Practitioners of the Philippines (GGAPP), Investment House Association of the Philippines (IHAP), Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx), Philippine Finance Association (PFA), Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and Junior Financial Executives-PUP (JFINEX-PUP).

During a recent Department of Finance (DOF) executive committee (Execom) meeting, Aquino also said SEC will  aim to list 888 companies in the capital markets for corporate financing or capital raising by the time the Commission celebrates its 88th anniversary in  2024. 

The current number of publicly listed companies is 274, with another 4 waiting to be listed and 3 with pending applications this year. 

Over the 2022-2024 period, Aquino said the SEC will access crowdfunding portals to target companies for listing, along with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), other large firms and companies with franchises, to achieve its goal of listing 888 firms over this three-year period.

Earlier, the SEC coordinated with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to ask the country’s Olympic medalists to serve as investor advocates or endorsers of its financial literacy campaign.  

It signed up as investor champions   Olympic medalists  for boxing  Eumir Marcial, Carlo Paalam,  and Nestshy Petecio, among others.

The SEC’s model of an “investor champion”  is one saving for his or her future by making good rational investments, and influencing other people to take the same steps towards their financial health.

According to SEC, a pre-pandemic financial inclusion survey showed there were  54 million adults who were seen to be not participating in the capital markets. 

Of this number, 66 percent said they do not have the excess income to invest in the capital markets, while 35 percent, or almost 20 million, said they would have participated but were dissuaded because of the perceived high costs, and are unaware of the investment opportunities available to them.

The other reasons given by the survey respondents were the perceived low return on investment and the lack of trust on investment providers.

The SEC has accelerated the implementation of its digitalization reforms under the Duterte administration to further improve the ease of doing business in the country and spur the growth of domestic enterprises through initiatives that allow companies to register, file their reportorial requirements and pay transaction fees online. 

Among the commission’s latest digital transformation initiatives are the Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Company (eSPARC) that was launched in April last year and that has so far processed 26,875 applications of business registration online.

Such online applications are completed in just one day and as fast as less than 2 minutes under eSPARC, Aquino said.

Aquino said the fastest time recorded for processing an eSPARC application after the payment of the registration fee has been made was 1 minute, 14 seconds, while the longest time was 2 hours and 37 minutes. 

He said the Commission also launched on March 1, 2021, its Electronic System for Payments to SEC (eSPAYSEC) to facilitate the payment of registration charges, penalties and other transaction fees with the SEC online using debit and credit cards, digital wallets and other cashless payment options. 

The SEC also launched on March 15 last year the Electronic Filing and Submission System (eFAST) that allows companies to submit the Audited Financial Statement (AFS), General Information Sheet (GIS), Sworn Statement for Foundations (SSF), General Form for Financial Statements (GFFS), Special Form for Financial Statement (SFFS) and other reportorial requirements. 

Aquino said the SEC has implemented its Company Investments and Financial Statistical System (CIFFS), which functions as the Commission’s central database and processing software for all the data that it receives from all the corporations it monitors. 

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