Today’s Editorial for October 6: Were remittance fees necessary?

Among the many revenue measures announced in the opening of the Legislative Assembly budget session last Friday was a two-per-cent fee on overseas money remittances.

We are told this fee only applies to money remittance services like Western Union and MoneyGram, and not to bank wire transfers or bank drafts sent overseas.

In practice, this new tax affects a very specific segment of the Cayman Islands population: the lower income labourers who send money back to their families in countries like Jamaica, Honduras and the Philippines.

These are people who not only have to use remittance services to send money to support families back home, but they also have to try to eek out a living for themselves in a place where the high cost of living is about to get higher.

These are people who are mainly doing the jobs that no one else wants to do, at salaries for which no one else would work.

These are people who live apart from their families in effort to earn enough money to make better lives for their children.

They already have to pay relatively large fees to send money home through remittance services.

We know this was an recommendation of the Cayman Islands Civil Service Association and that a lot of people have a problem with people who come here and send a bulk of their money back home instead of spending it on the local economy.

How quickly some of these same people seem to forget that this is how most Caymanian families survived in bygone days, when seamen sent back remittances earned on foreign shores or on least foreign ships.

Yes, the Cayman Islands is in a financial bind and it needs new revenue sources, but was this, what amounts to a poor tax, really necessary?