Cutting OFW-remittance cost to be filed in Senate

THE Senate is working on an awaited remedial legislation aimed at providing added protection for hard-earned remittances regularly sent by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to their families here.

In filing the enabling Senate Bill 10, Senator Loren B. Lagarda pointed out that the money remitted by OFWs to their beneficiaries in the Philippines “goes through intermediaries or financial institutions.”

The four-term senator reminded that “in the course of transfer, the amount supposedly remitted [by OFWs] is subject to various fees and usurious charges, thereby depleting the amount to be received by the beneficiaries.”

Citing the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Legarda said that personal remittances in 2021 constituted 8.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. She said the BSP noted that 8.5 percent of this is gross national income.

Legarda also recalled that in the same year, the World Bank tagged the Philippines as the 4th-largest remittance destination in the world. Hence, she reminded that “it is imperative for the government to protect the money transfers from several fees and incredulous interest rates imposed by financial institutions.”

At the same time, Legarda clarified that the enabling bill intends to “set a limit on the amount of remittance fees and charges to be enforced by intermediaries, provide up to 50-percent discount to OFWs sending money to their immediate family members and grant tax deductions to the intermediaries that provide discounts on remittance fees.”

The proposed measure also mandates concerned government agencies to conduct financial education programs for OFWs and their families.

It will be recalled that during her chairmanship of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Legarda sponsored the Senate concurrence in ratifying of several international agreements. These include the International Labour Organization Convention 189, the Maritime Labour Convention and the Convention on Social Security between the Philippines and Spain. All intended to strengthen the protection for land-based and sea-based OFWs.