A MEASURE granting migrant workers discounts on remittance fees has been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives.
House Bill No. 9032, or the “Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) Remittance Protection Act,” which passed via voice vote, proposed a 10-50% remittance fee discount depending on the amount being remitted.
It intends to ensure “effective mechanisms be instituted to ensure the protection of rights and interests of OFWs.”
The bill provided that OFWs are entitled to 50% discounts for remittances of not more than $500 or its equivalent in other currencies; a 40% discount for $500-1,000; a 30% discount for $1,000-1,500; a 20% discount, for $1,500-2,000; and a 10% discount for over $2,000.
In exchange, it proposed that establishments granting discounts on remittance fees may claim tax deductions “based on the cost of services rendered to OFWs,” as stated in Section 5.
A mandatory financial education program will be provided to OFWs and their families by the Department of Finance (DoF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and other agencies.
The program shall include financial management, budgeting, investment options and other related topics to educate covered individuals with regards to earnings and remittances.
The bill also prohibits banks and non-bank financial intermediaries from raising remittance fees without consultation with the DoF, BSP, and the POEA.
The bill will also penalize, among others, misappropriation or conversion of foreign exchange remittances, taking remittances without the consent of the OFW or the beneficiary, and imposition of fees in excess of those allowed.
If found guilty of the prohibited acts, the bill proposes a P50,000-750,000 fine and subject offenders to 2 months to 20 years of imprisonment. — Charmaine A. Tadalan