Banks urged to make remittances easier for OFWs

MANILA — A lawmaker in the House of Representatives is urging Philippine banking and remittances sectors to make it easier for overseas Filipino workers, especially those in the Middle East and Australia, in sending remittances.

House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries vice-chair Henry Ong made the call on Thursday after a report that remittances from overseas Filipinos declined in September this year.

The Bangko ng Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported cash remittances coursed through banks were down by 8.3 percent to USD 2.19 billion last September from USD 2.38 billion in the same period last year.

Ong expressed concern over reports that a number of global correspondent banks have closed their service facilities on money service business, thus “making it difficult for overseas Filipinos to send their earnings to Filipinos here at home.”

“I am therefore urging the Philippine banking and remittance sectors to step up and step forward to address this gap. Open more service facilities, extend banking hours, improve your online remittance services, and forge new remittance relationships with money transfer agencies overseas,” Ong said.

Ong, citing the BSP report, said the countries that registered the biggest declines in cash remittances in September were Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, Qatar, and Australia.

The lawmaker also urged state-run Land Bank of the Philippines to “act fast” as the peak months for remittances are coming.

“I also call upon the Land Bank of the Philippines, the government’s official depositary bank and proponent of the Overseas Filipino Bank, to lead the way in serving Filipinos abroad. Prioritize Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Australia,” he added.