Senior, PWD discounts pushed in online purchases

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star
Senior, PWD discounts pushed in online purchases
“Online shopping platforms need to reprogram their offering to incorporate a feature that allows discounts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants the discount privileges granted to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) honored in e-commerce platforms.

“Online shopping platforms need to reprogram their offering to incorporate a feature that allows discounts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement.

The DTI urged e-commerce platforms to adopt the “Guidelines on the Provision of the Mandatory Statutory Benefits and Privileges of the Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities on their Purchases through Online (e-commerce) and Phone Call/SMS.”

It also urged e-commerce platforms to improve their existing systems to ensure that the mandatory discounts are given whenever seniors and PWDs purchase goods or services, whether in online, telephone or mobile transactions.

Senior citizens and PWDs are entitled to a 20 percent discount, with 12 percent VAT exemption on purchases of specific goods and services under Republic Act 9257 and RA 9442 as amended; and five percent special discount for basic necessities and prime commodities, for their exclusive use and enjoyment.

Under the five percent discount, senior citizens and persons with disabilities can purchase a maximum amount of P1,300 a week for both online and offline transactions, without carryover of the unused amount.

The amount shall be spent for the personal and exclusive consumption of the senior citizen and the PWD, and must be spent on at least four kinds of items of basic goods and prime commodities.

Meanwhile, the guidelines also encourage establishments to redesign their business and website system/websites/applications to accommodate the provision of discounts for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

“The redesign may include the establishment’s acceptance of the senior citizen or PWD’s submission of his or her ID; and the use of discount vouchers or codes, whether physical or electronic, reflecting the applicable discount that may be granted, provided that the discount shall not be lower than what is prescribed under the guidelines, or any applicable law,” the DTI said.

To receive the discount, one must declare to the merchant prior to placing orders that he or she is a senior citizen or a PWD and submit supporting documents, such as a scanned copy or screenshot of ID, as well as the front and last pages of the purchase booklet. The same proof of discount entitlement should be presented upon the delivery of goods and orders.

“The Department reminds senior citizens and persons with disabilities to only purchase from verified online platforms to avoid having their personal details used for other purposes,” DTI-Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.

The economy has solid foundations and is strong enough to repay government debts incurred to finance the country’s pandemic response, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua.

In an online interview Wednesday night, Chua defended the government’s borrowings over the past years, saying borrowing is good if used in a productive manner.

Latest data showed that the national debt jumped to another record high of P12.76 trillion as of April. The national debt, when measured against gross domestic product, has soared to a 17-year high of 63.5 percent.

This is above the international acceptable debt threshold of 60 percent of gross domestic product, which could potentially raise concerns on the country’s ability to pay. Prior to COVID, the Philippines saw its lowest debt-to-GDP ratio at 39.6 percent in December 2019.

“During the pandemic, we had to borrow because everyone had to be helped. We had to give subsidies to the businesses when we shut down the economy. We had to give ayuda and borrow for the vaccines,” Chua said.

“So the point is, if it’s used productively, then borrowing is actually good. We have to balance. We cannot just borrow everything. We have to find the best use for our borrowings, and that’s what I believe we did,” he pointed out.

Data from the Department of Finance showed that the Philippines has a P1.3-trillion pandemic debt pile.

Chua explained that the government avoided excessive borrowings and that everything that was borrowed had a purpose, including the purchase of vaccines, ramping up of the healthcare system and distribution of financial assistance.

“The economy is very strong enough to repay all the debts. We did not at any time in the last three decades renege on our borrowings. Instead, we built and strengthened the economy and used the borrowings productively,” Chua said.

“That is why we were able to bring down our debt from 70-plus percent to 39 percent of GDP. Now, it’s temporarily up precisely because of our COVID needs, but we have a very strong economy that can repay all those,” he said.

Had it not been for COVID, the outgoing NEDA chief said debt-to-GDP would have been around 30 percent.

To trim the debt pile, Chua cited three ways to do that, with the first one anchored on growing the economy as expanding the economy would  help pay for the borrowings.

“Because if your economy grows, your businesses are earning, and if they are earning, they are paying more taxes and the taxes are the one we use to pay our debts. That’s why we have to open the economy,” Chua said.

Secondly, Chua said that there is a need to do tax reforms in the most equitable manner.

The Department of Finance already proposed a three-tranche reform program to bring in revenues and trim debt. Most of this would slap additional taxes and reduce exemptions.

Finally, Chua maintained that the government needs to look at the budget and prioritize.

“You have to do many things, but resources are limited so you have to prioritize. Those are the things that the economic team of this and the next administration fully understand and I believe they will implement that strategy,” he said. – Louise Maureen Simeon

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