Gonzales pursues 50% discount on OFW remittance fee anew

Published August 5, 2022, 12:15 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A House leader wants to institutionalize in the 19th Congress a 50 percent reduction on the fee imposed on overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) money remittances.

OFWs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

This benefit is the main feature of House Bill (HB) No. 185, which is a refiled measure from Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga’s 3rd district representative.

“We hope we could enact it this time around for the sake of our 2.3 million OFWs and their families,” Gonzales said of his measure, dubbed the proposed OFWs Remittance Protection Act.

Citing a March 2022 World Bank monitoring report, the veteran solon said the cost of global remittances coursed through banks averaged 10.94 percent of the amount remitted.

“That means our OFWs paid $3.44 billion in fees on the $31.4 billion they sent to home to their families last year. Had the bill been enacted, it would have saved our workers $1.72 billion or P95.67 billion at the exchange rate of P55.70 to one US dollar,” he said.

“That is P95.67 billion in extra money going to OFW families, instead of that huge amount accruing to banks that are raking in tens of billions in profits. Let us choose to help our OFWs and their families, rather than make bank owners richer,” Gonzales noted.

He pointed out that if the P95.67 billion were divided equally among 2.3 million OFW families, each would have received an additional P41,600. He added that banks would still have earned $1.72 billion.

The House had approved the bill on third and final in December 2020 during the 18th Congress, but the Senate failed to pass their version of the measure.

Under HB No. 185, banks and non-bank financial intermediaries could claim the 50-percent remittance discount for OFWs as an expense deductible from their gross income.

They would be prohibited from increasing their fees without prior consultation with the Department of Finance (DOF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

These remittance establishments would also be required to post in conspicuous places in their premises the prevailing foreign exchange rate to be used in converting OFW remittances into Philippine pesos.