Dubai: Avoid the risk of landing in jail in the UAE because of debts as you have numerous alternatives back home, an official told Filipinos on Wednesday.

Labour Attache Ofelia Domingo said some 7 per cent or 15 out of the 205 Filipinos incarcerated in Dubai and Ajman jails are due to non-payment of personal loans or bounced cheques.

“There are many reasons why this could be happening. Based on the accounts of people we’ve spoken to, the main reason why they fail to pay is because they lost their jobs, they opened a business that went bust and went further into debt, or because they had to send money home for their daily needs or for emergencies,” Domingo told Gulf News.

What happens when a cheque bounces in the UAE

Ask the law: Civil case on returned cheques


But Domingo said Filipinos have an alternative to borrowing money in the UAE that does not put them at risk of imprisonment due to unintentional non-payment of loans.

The Landbank of the Philippines in cooperation with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), for example, relaunched its OFW Reintegration Programme last week to allow Filipinos who are active OWWA members to borrow a minimum of 100,000 pesos (Dh7,300) up to 2 million pesos. This gives them a chance to engage in business as an alternative to overseas employment in the future.

The loan amount is on a 7.5 per cent interest rate, payable within a maximum of seven years, including a two-year grace period. A Guaranteed Fund of one billion pesos is available.

“If they need to take a loan, it’s good to borrow from Philippine government entities or banks because under Philippine law, no one can be imprisoned because of debt,” Domingo said. “They can apply for the loan here and processing will be done in the Philippines.”

For home loans, Pag-Ibig has packages available for its active members. The same goes for Social Security System members.

Filipinos who don’t want to take loans but want to grow their money have an option to invest a minimum of Dh2,400 in an Adopt-a-Farm scheme by the Philippine government and a non-government organisation called the Dubai EntrePinoy Reintegration Programme.

“The bottom-line here is Filipinos need to distinguish between risks and calculated risks. Filipinos should know their priorities and focus on their objectives as to why they came here to work.”