Tougher protection for OFW remittances under way

BY BUTCH FERNANDEZ

THE Senate Committees on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies and on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development are holding a virtual joint hearing on July 22 to fine-tune a remedial legislation updating safeguards to protect over $30-billion annual remittances and money transfers sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

This, as Senator Grace L. Poe, Banks Committee chairman, pressed for “heightened protection for OFW remittances and money transfers.”

Poe pointed out that financial institutions, including banks and money transfer companies, as well as State regulators should “do more to protect the remittances of overseas Filipino workers.

She cited the findings of the latest Consumer Expectations Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that 96 percent of households that receive remittances spend it on food and other needs.

The Senator emphasized that these remittances are “crucial to the survival of families of OFWs and play an important role in the economy as a whole.” Poe also reminded that “their steady flow into the country softens the destabilizing impact of hemorrhaging foreign investments and outflows from the payment of foreign debt.”

Poe added that BSP data also showed remittances of OFWs brought home $30.1 billion in 2019. And “despite the blow” from the deadly virus contagion that Covid-19 dealt on the global economy, she noted that remittances in 2020 only dipped slightly to $29.9 billion.

At the same time, she reminded that “it is imperative that we protect our people’s money,” adding “it is not just the remittances of OFWs coming from abroad that we must protect but local money transfers as well.”

Moreover, Poe recalls that since the pandemic, “more people have to rely on remittances and money transfers from family members and other relatives to cope with heightened difficulties.”

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