Government urged to adopt guidelines giving discounts to seniors’ online purchases

MANILA—The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution urging relevant government agencies to implement the guidelines on the application of discounts granted to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) for all online transactions.

During Monday’s plenary session, the chamber adopted House Resolution 2488 urging the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the National Commission of Senior Citizens, the National Council on Disability Affairs, and other relevant government agencies to effectively implement the guidelines on the applicability of senior citizens and PWD discounts and privileges to all online transactions.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said the Expanded Senior citizens Act and the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, which grant the privilege of 20-percent discounts on essential goods and are exempted from paying the value added tax, do not make any distinction on the applicability between offline and online transactions and must thus be interpreted to be available for online purchases.

He said senior citizens and PWDs, who remain to be among the most vulnerable sectors of society in terms of public health and accessibility of basic services, were forced largely to stay indoors and rely on purchasing goods online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He noted that due to the lack of clear guidelines from implementing agencies regarding the special discounts on online transactions, several Filipino senior citizens and PWDs were unable to avail themselves of the privileges “that they rightfully deserve under the law.”

“Given the importance of online transactions in the everyday life and subsistence of Filipinos especially belonging in the senior citizens and persons with disabilities sector, it is imperative that the government establish and properly implement the necessary guidelines for special discounts on online transactions to uphold the rights and welfare of the elderly and PWDs with the privileges they are entitled to under the law,” he said.

In a radio interview, Trade  Secretary Ramon Lopez urged e-commerce platforms to prepare their systems in accepting price discounts for senior citizens and PWDs.

Lopez said that those enterprises operating online stores should reprogram their system to include the 20-percent senior citizen and PWD discounts.

Senior citizens and PWDs are also exempted from value-added tax (VAT) payment of 8 percent for online purchases, phone calls, and mobile apps.

“We will require the online stores to have these features,” Lopez said.

The DTI has yet to announce when it will start requiring online shops to include senior citizens and PWD discounts on their platforms.

Earlier, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said most online purchases do not apply the discounts for senior citizens and PWDs.

At the onset of the pandemic, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. has been pushing for senior citizen and PWD discounts on online transactions amid the increase in activities on e-commerce. PNA

Image credits: PNA FILE PHOTO

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