United States-based Guyanese could soon be asked to pay more to send their relatives and friends a ‘small piece’ or a ‘frek’ if a Bill is passed to impose a two percent tax on all remittances sent to Guyana and several other countries to help fund the construction of a US-Mexico border wall.
Introduced to the House of Representatives on March 30, 2017, the Border Wall Funding Act seeks to amend the Electronic Fund Transfer Act to impose a fee for remittance transfers to certain foreign countries, and for other purposes. The US-Mexico wall, a major campaign promise by American President Donald Trump to keep out illegal aliens and other undesirables from entering the US, is estimated to cost US$21.6 billion
“If the designated recipient of a remittance transfer is located in a foreign country described in subparagraph (B), a remittance transfer provider shall collect from the sender of such remittance transfer a remittance fee equal to 2 percent of the United States dollar amount to be transferred (excluding any fees or other charges imposed by the remittance transfer provider),” states the Bill that was referred on April 21, 2017 to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, and the House’s Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs and Judiciary.
The law is expected to have a five-year life-span during which the monies will be submitted to the US Treasury “to be expended for the purpose of improving border security.”
The Bureau, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Treasury, and remittance transfer providers, have until September 30, 2017 to develop and make available a system for remittance transfer providers.
The Bill allows for remittance transfer providers to retain up to five percent of any remittance fees collected to cover the costs of collecting and submitting such remittance fees.
Sponsored by Republican Mike D. Rogers and co-sponsored by eight other Republican law makers, the draft law envisages stiff penalties against remittance evaders and the transfer of the tax to the recipient in Guyana and other listed countries or requests or facilitates such remittance transfer to a designated recipient in a country that is not listed could be fined not more than US$500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the remittance transfer, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both.
The Border Wall Act states that any foreign country in the joint determination of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of State aids or harbors an individual conspiring to avoid the fee collected “shall be ineligible to receive foreign assistance and to participate in the visa waiver program or any other programs, at the discretion of the Secretaries.”
The payment of the two-percent transfer fee shall apply to monies being sent to recipients in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Aruba, Curacao, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, or Argentina.