Pimentel wants remittance firms to disclose all charges included in OFWs’ money transfers

Published March 23, 2019, 1:11 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Vanne Terrazola 

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III is pushing for the approval of a bill that will require remittance companies to fully disclose the charges they impose for the money transfers of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel was the first to file his certificate of candidacy at the COMELEC office in Intramuros, Manila. (KEVIN TRISTAN ESPIRITU / MANILA BULLETIN)

In his Senate Bill 2162, Pimentel sought to protect the remittances of OFWs by compelling remittance agencies to adhere strictly to “anti-price gouging rules.”

“Over the years, there have been complaints that remittance agents or money transfer companies utilize unfair and deceptive trade practices such as using rates notably lower than the foreign currency exchange rates of Philippine banks, in effect concealing the real rate to most recipients,” Pimentel said in filing the measure as he cited supposed complaints from Filipino workers.

Under the measure, all remittance agents and companies shall be duly registered and meet all the requirements issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

They should also comply with the reference exchange rate bulletin of the BSP, and be prohibited from substituting the Philippine Peso for the specified original currency without the express or written consent of the recipient.

The bill also proposes to mandate remittance agents and companies to include a waiver form for every transaction.

The waiver shall contain the following information: the specific exchange rate provided for that currency; any and all additional fees being deducted from the original remittance; and a signed acknowledgement that the recipient consents to the exchange from the original currency to Philippine Peso thereby forfeiting a percentage equivalent to the flat rate fee for the remittance service.

It should also inform senders and recipients that senders are generally not permitted to require that the money transfer be made in the original currency, except in specific countries where senders are given the option of specifying the money to be received in original currency form without any additional exchange fees being charged to the sender.

Pimentel proposes penalties for charging of excessive prices or fees of currency exchange rates.

Violators face prison terms of a minimum of six years to a maximum of 10 years and fine ranging from P200,000 to P1 million, his bill states.

SB 2162 is pending before the Senate committees on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development; and Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies.