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House panel OKs bill limiting charges, giving discounts to OFW remittance fees

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The House Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday approved the measure seeking to limit the amount of charges and provide discounts on the fees charged from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) when sending remittances to their families in the Philippines.

During its virtual meeting, the panel approved House Bill 826, or the proposed "Overseas Filipino Workers Remittance Protection Act," principally authored by Deputy Speaker Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales.

In filing the measure, Gonzales said fees and high remittance charges imposed by financial and non-bank financial institutions on the amounts sent by OFWs to their families result in the depletion of funds.

"It becomes a matter of utmost urgency and necessity for Congress to enact a law that will adequately and effectively put a stop to the imposition of high remittance charges and safeguard the remittances sent by OFWs, which includes providing educational programs on how these OFWs can manage their finances," he said.

Under the measure, financial intermediaries and non-bank financial intermediaries may impose fees for services rendered in the money remittance of OFWs to the immediate family members, subject to a 50% discount regardless of the amount, as proposed by the panel.

The measure initially indicated varying discounts on the remittance fee depending on the amount to be remitted.

Financial and non-bank intermediaries providing discounts on remittance fees may claim the discounts as "tax deduction" to be treated as an ordinary and necessary expense deductible from their gross income.

The total deduction from the gross income of establishments providing discounts on remittance fees should not exceed P24,000 per OFW every taxable year, it added.

At the same time, the measure prohibits financial and non-bank intermediaries from raising their current remittance fees without prior consultation with the Department of Finance (DOF), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

It also puts to task the same agencies, along with related government bodies, to ensure a mandatory financial education program for OFWs and their families. —KBK, GMA News

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