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Philippines sees significant shift to e-commerce
In his Cabinet Report program aired over state-run Radyo Pilipinas on Friday evening, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar noted how online businesses have mushroomed since the imposition of stay-at-home arrangements beginning March 15.
Presidential Photo/Ace Morandante, file

Philippines sees significant shift to e-commerce

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A significant shift to e-commerce is expected to boost the economy under the “new normal” after almost three months of strict quarantine enforced to check the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), officials said on Friday.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez made similar observations, citing the importance of e-commerce and the digitalization of trade and services even as the Bureau of Internal Revenue has urged online traders to register their businesses for tax purposes.

In his Cabinet Report program aired over state-run Radyo Pilipinas on Friday evening, Andanar noted how online businesses have mushroomed since the imposition of stay-at-home arrangements beginning March 15.

He said the digitalization of businesses, as a platform for selling baked goods, food and other items, will flourish further once the country moves from general community quarantine to modified community quarantine phases.

But he admitted there could be higher exposure to COVID-19 once quarantine restrictions are relaxed further. “So we really need to be extra careful,” Andanar said.

“Consumers have adapted to new business practices right now. We are further exploring digitalization which has boosted the delivery services and online purchase of products, food and other basic needs,” he said in Filipino.

In the same program, Lopez stressed that the government is supportive of the use of the digital platform for trade and businesses.

 The Department of Trade and Industry has launched a project, “Making Your Business Digital” aimed at encouraging the use of digital platform. 

“We are supportive of these businesses so that they can shift to digital platform,” Lopez said.

He added the government has set guidelines for consumer protection. “As you mentioned earlier, definitely we have to check on this business… We adhere to Consumer Protection, where there is also price monitoring, even online, we make sure that the products being sold online will have the prices indicated,” he said.

He also reminded online sellers about the price tag law, to which they should adhere.

“That is part of consumer protection. For example, as a consumer who buys online, make sure that the products you would buy would have the same specs and quality as indicated in the online selling,” Lopez said.

Consumers may report violations of their rights to DTI through hotline 1384.

“So, the same protection is being granted by the Department of Trade and Industry to our consumers… this is the sector that will continue to grow as we grow, the e-commerce. Moving forward, we expect the e-commerce transactions to go up to even about 80 percent of future transactions,” Lopez said.

In all endeavors, whether online or personal, Lopez underscored the need for everybody to adapt to the new normal and observe health protocols all the time.

“Balance is very important because, again, we know that the virus will be here to stay. There is still no vaccine or cure, although there are potential (vaccines),” he said.

“So there is really a need that we start to reopen gradually and the most important thing, we can simultaneously look at health protection and opening of the economy, number one is minimum health protocol which should be followed in all businesses, including malls and commercial establishments. So that as we reopen the economy, everybody will still be safe,” Lopez added.

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