THE Senate starts Monday a “thorough scrutiny” into a new round of increases in automated teller machine (ATM) fees and other charges for remittances and money transfers.
Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, confirmed over the weekend that pending applications of “some banks” for increase in automated teller machine (ATM) fees will be thoroughly examined by the panel when the Senate inquiry gets under way.
Also up for Senate review are other fees imposed by financial institutions, such as finance charges and other fees for remittances or money transfers of overseas Filipino workers.
“We recognize the convenience of ATM machines and the need to keep them working, but any increase should be warranted and should not be too burdensome on the users, especially the workers. P15 means a lot to the minimum-wage earners,” says Poe.
Anticipating a large turnout, Poe’s panel has reserved two committee rooms for the public hearing on ATM increase and “other fees” charged by banks.
The office of the senator said among the invited guests who have already confirmed their attendance were Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno; Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II; Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Hans Cacdac and Director Vivian Tornea; BSP officials Vicente de Villa III, Dindo Santos, Melchor artsPlabasan; Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioners Ephyro Amatong and Kelvin Lester Lee, and Director Vicente Felizmenio; National Privacy Commission Director Ivy Grace Villasotto.
Also expected to attend were complainants Marshalyn Lajom, Cristina Ignacio Tagalog and Bellajoy Bardolla, who were reported to have lodged complaints against the ATM fee increase.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 96, Poe cleared the way for the panel inquiry in aid of crafting remedial legislation addressing the “looming increase in ATM fees following the BSP order lifting the .moratorium on the fee increases.”
The Poe resolution noted that currently, bank charges range from P10 to P15 for interbank withdrawals and P2 for interbank balance inquiry.
It noted that “an increase in bank charge is disadvantageous to an estimated 4.1 million minimum-wage earners who would need to carry the burden of these fees as many of them receive their salaries through ATM cards and withdraw from these machines at least twice a month.”
Moreover, Poe observed that the practice of “imposing hefty bank fees, including ATM charges is financially disadvantageous to our country’s more than 58 million ATM cardholders.”
Image credits: Nonie Reyes