Foreigners In Palau Raise Money To Legally Challenge Remittance Tax

admin's picture

Former President Toribiong plans suit, denies involvement in raising funds

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Feb. 27, 2014) – Former President Johnson Toribiong said that he is not involved in any way with an effort to collect money intended for a planned lawsuit against the remittance law.

Posters and signs soliciting money for the lawsuit have sprouted around the country recently.

The posters were asking for foreign nationals- Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Koreans, and Pacific Islanders- to join the signature campaign and share $20 per person to pay for a lawyer to represent them in a lawsuit against the remittance law.

Toribiong said that a couple of Filipino workers on their own, without his knowledge try to raise funds to hire him. The names of the two Filipinos have not been disclosed. But one reportedly works for a prominent local businessman.

"It was done without my knowledge and authorization. It is improper and unethical. It will ruin the whole case," he stressed.

The former President said that he was very surprised when somebody told him about the said signs and posters.

"I immediately asked for their removal," he disclosed.

Toribiong said that he has received a lot of request for him to represent foreign workers and others in a planned lawsuit.

"The remittance law is unfair, unjust and probably unconstitutional," he said. "This law takes money from one class of workers, the foreign workers, to fund the pension of another class of workers, the government workers."

The former President said that he is trying to organize a meeting where he can discuss personally the planned action with the people he will represent.

"I want to met my clients and do it the right way," he said.

Toribiong is spearheading a signature drive against the remittance tax. More than 500 people have already signed the petition. The former President, who is a lawyer, also signified his intention to represent those who will challenge the remittance law in court.

The signature drive was hatched and a lawsuit to challenge the legality of the remittance law is being planned after attempts to repeal the unpopular law through legislation have failed. Late last year, Senator Hokkons Baules introduced a proposed law that will repeal the remittance tax, but the measure was tabled at the Senate.

Prior to its implementation and shortly after it took effect, there were talks that remittance companies and banks will challenge the remittance law in court. But after preliminary discussions, it was decided that no lawsuit will be filed, and instead, those affected should just wait for a repealing legislation to be filed at the Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK).

Aside from the banks and remittance companies, the remittance law is also opposed by the different foreign communities and the Palau Chamber of Commerce.

The foreign community, mostly foreign workers, said that the remittance law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. The Palau Chamber of Commerce said that the remittance is bad for business and the economy as a whole.

Supporters of the law said that it will infuse funding into the Pension Fund and will offset some of the economic losses brought by the drain of dollars overseas.

The remittance law provides that a tax of 4% to be taken out of all remittance. The collection is intended to finance the Civil Service Pension Fund. The remittance law took effect on November 1, 2013.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment