Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said laptops are also being considered to be part of the list of basic or essential goods because this becomes necessary for students as schools shift to blended learning during the quarantine period.
Philstar.com/Era Christ R. Baylon, file
Bicycles, gadgets eyed as basic goods
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is considering the possibility of classifying bicycles and electronic gadgets like laptops among the basic or essential goods it monitors due to the high demand during this coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News Friday night that DTI is looking into recommending the inclusion of bicycles in the list of basic or essential goods as part of revisions to Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act being pushed in Congress.

The law seeks to ensure the availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices.

“DTI did not make a formal endorsement or recommendation on the bicycle. But we can do that. We can look into that,” Castelo said.

The community quarantine imposed by government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has limited public transportation and resulted in more individuals purchasing bicycles to use for doing errands or to get to work.

Castelo said laptops are also being considered to be part of the list of basic or essential goods because this becomes necessary for students as schools shift to blended learning during the quarantine period.

“We are currently making a recommendation, the consumer policy and advocacy bureau is making a recommendation to (Trade) Secretary (Ramon) Lopez because schools now are on e-learning. Even government would face challenges if the prices go up too much because public schools would need these,” she revelead.

The DTI, she said, is working on a survey covering the international prices of the electronic devices.

“For now, all we can do is make an appeal to business that if possible, if you’re going to increase (prices), everybody suffered during COVID anyway, we hope it would be an absolute minimum. Just increase the prices when the economy has stabilized,” Castelo added.

As the pandemic changed the way people shop and more individuals are now making purchases online, the DTI is also pushing for the creation of an E-commerce Bureau as well as a registry for online sellers, she noted.

“It doesn’t have to be us, but the law needs to identify specific government agency that should handle this. It’s very important to have a registry because that is how the traceability happens,” Castelo said.

With no law in place to set up an E-Commerce Bureau and to require online sellers to register with government, she said DTI is handling complaints from consumers on e-commerce transactions at present.

She said the bulk of 13,500 complaints the agency received from consumers from March 15 to May 15 are for online transactions. The complaints are mostly on defective products, non-delivery after payment and receiving items that look different from photos posted online.

For deceptive or misleading sales practice act, Castelo said the DTI applies the penalty provided under the Consumer Act which could reach a maximum of P300,000.

BICYCLES DTI GADGETS
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