PAG-IBIG FUND has decided to defer the increase in its members’ monthly contribution that was supposed to take place in January 2021, the agency said, adding the move came after consulting with labor and employer groups.

“We know that many of our members and employers faced financial challenges in the last few months because of the effects brought about by the pandemic to the economy. After consulting with our stakeholders, we will no longer push through with the increase of the members’ monthly contributions next year,” Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario, who heads the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, said in a statement.

He said the decision was in line with efforts of the Duterte administration “to alleviate the financial burden of our fellow Filipinos and help businesses recover.”

Mr. del Rosario heads the 11-member Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees.

The agency’s statement said that in 2019, its officials approved the increase of members’ monthly contributions, which had remained unchanged since the 1980s.

Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti said that the projection at that time placed the amount of loans disbursed would eventually outpace the total collections from loan payments and members’ contributions each year.

“So, we proposed to increase the monthly savings by P50 to have enough funds to answer the growing demand and maintain the low rates of our loans,” the official said.

But he said with the pandemic, the circumstances have changed.

“Rest assured, our financial position remains strong and that has allowed us to defer the increase in our monthly contributions by a year. What we are focused on right now is providing our members and businesses the assistance they need to cope with the effects of the pandemic,” he said.

Mr. Moti said home loan availment had been rising steadily with the easing of quarantine restrictions after the pandemic dampened demand early this year.

He said that as a signal of early economic recovery, the agency released P44.16 billion in home loans this year, allowing 43,733 members to have their own homes.

For October alone, P7.7 billion in home loans were released, which equals pre-pandemic monthly takeout target for the month, he said.

Mr. Moti described the result as a “hopeful sign” that the agency was getting back on track.

“We assure our members that we will continue serving them, especially during these difficult times. While the pandemic could have been used as an excuse not to serve, we at Pag-IBIG Fund used it as a reason to serve our members better. That is the Lingkod Pag-IBIG way,” he said.