Another House panel OKs bill on limiting charges, providing discounts on OFWs’ remittances

By: Neil Arwin Mercado – Reporter / @NAMercadoINQ

The House committee on overseas workers affairs approved Thursday the bill that seeks to limit charges and provide discounts on remittance fees shouldered by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

In an online hearing, the panel approved the committee report on House Bill No. 826 or the “Overseas Filipino Workers Remittance Protection Act” authored by Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr.

Under the measure, financial intermediaries and non-bank financial intermediaries may impose fees for services rendered in sending OFW remittances to their immediate family members, subject to a 50 percent discount regardless of the amount.

Initially, the bill proposes that OFWs’ discount be dependent on the amount of their remittance. However, the committee approved an amendment setting the discount at 50 percent regardless of the amount of remittance.

Likewise, financial and non-bank intermediaries providing discounts on remittance fees may claim the discounts granted as a tax deduction based on the cost of services rendered to OFWs.

The total deduction from the gross income of establishments providing discounts on remittance fees shall, however, not exceed P24,000 per OFW every taxable year, the bill states.

All financial intermediaries and non-bank financial intermediaries offering remittance services to OFWs are also prohibited from raising their current remittance fees without prior consultation with the Department of Finance (DOF), Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

In the bill’s explanatory note, Gonzales pointed out that several fees and remittance charges are implemented during the transfer of remittances, resulting in the “depletion” of the funds to be remitted and received by OFWs’ families.

“In view of the effect of high remittance charges on the hard-earned wages of OFWs, which should instead be enjoyed by them and their respective families, it becomes a matter of utmost urgency and necessity for Congress to enact a law that will adequately and effectively put a stop to the imposition of high remittance charges and safeguard the remittances sent by OFWs, which includes providing educational programs on how these OFWs can manage their finances,” Gonzales said.

The House committee on ways and means has earlier approved the measure. [ac]

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