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Remittance discounts for Overseas Filipino Workers pushed

IN a bid to further protect the hard-earned money of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the House of Representatives is pushing for the approval of a measure that seeks to grant discounts on their remittances to their families in the Philippines.

House Bill 9032 or the proposed “Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) Remittance Protection Act” awaits third reading approval.

Principally authored by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, the bill was approved on second reading before the long session break.

It states that the government recognizes the significant contribution of OFWs to the national economy through foreign exchange remittances.

Thus, it shall institute effective mechanisms to protect the rights and interests of the OFWs, particularly their remittances.

“These OFW remittances are transferred from the OFWs to intermediaries, such as financial and non-bank financial institutions, before they reach their beneficiaries. In the course of the fund transfer, the amounts remitted are subject to several fees and high remittance charges which result in the depletion of the amount to be remitted and received,” Gonzales said.

The bill seeks to provide for a limit on the remittance fees to be imposed, discounts to OFWs, and tax incentives for the establishments providing for such discounts.

To this end, the measure stipulates that banks and non-bank financial intermediaries shall provide a mandatory discount on remittance fees of 10 to 50 percent depending on the amount to be remitted.

All establishments providing discounts on remittance fees may claim these discounts as a tax deduction based on the cost of services rendered for the OFWs. The tax deduction shall be mandatory, thus it shall grant incentives for remittance establishments as they grant the discounts.

The bill prohibits the imposition of remittance fees in excess of those prescribed under the proposed Act.

Financial intermediaries offering remittance services to OFWs shall not be allowed to raise their current fees without prior consultation with the Department of Finance (DoF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).