DTI lifts quantity restrictions on alcohol, facemasks, other essential items

Marje Pelayo   •   June 25, 2020   •   273

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has lifted the quantity restrictions on essential items such as alcohol and facemasks after months of strict community quarantine when the incidence of hoarding and profiteering was rampant.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the limits were lifted after the Department managed a healthy inventory of supplies. 

“Now we have an abundant supply of masks, and that’s the reason why just recently, about two days ago we are removing these limits in purchases,” he said. 

“We have also increased the limits, let’s say, on mask purchases to one box of 50. Dati ‘yan five pieces lang [Previously, it was limited to five pieces only],” he added.

Currently, each box of 50 pieces of surgical mask costs around P300 to P500 while N95 masks cost around P400 to P500 per 10 pieces in Bambang, Manila.

Disinfecting alcohol, meanwhile, slightly increased in prices by P10 with each bottle now ranging from P85 to P500, depending on the volume.

Aside from medical supplies, the DTI also lifted the caps imposed for the sale and purchase of other basic commodities, such as canned sardines, instant noodles, canned and powdered milk, instant coffee, bread loaf, detergent soap, toothpaste, canned pork, canned beef, cooking oil, soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, and dried fish. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

DTI probes reports on alleged abuse of PWD discount cards

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 23, 2020

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will investigate the reports of alleged misuse of Persons with Disability (PWD) identification cards.

A photo circulated on social media last 20 June 2020 showing a photo of a family from Quezon City with all members supposedly visually impaired and one with psychosocial disability.

“Abuse of privilege in any law ruins the spirit behind it. Such a discount is solely meant for actual persons with disabilities. DTI, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB), is currently investigating the matter,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

He also emphasized that such corruption is not tolerated and must immediately be reported to the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

The department said it is also ready to file charges against individuals proven to have fake PWD ID cards.

“Especially in this time of crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, people should not be abusing their PWD ID cards since many restaurant owners are also facing difficulty in keeping their businesses afloat,” he said. AAC

Gov’t urged to grant incentives, not taxes to online sellers

Robie de Guzman   •   June 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday called on the government to extend fresh capital and other financial assistance, instead of implementing “untimely” new taxes to online entrepreneurs amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, Gatchalian said online sellers should be covered by the microfinancing program of the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) under the Department of Trade and Industry to help them grow their business and recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

The senator noted that DTI’s SB Corp. has a P1 billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (Covid19 P3-ERF) to support micro and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

The microfinancing program offers a minimal interest rate of not more than 2.5% per month with no collateral requirement.

Micro enterprises with asset size of not more than PhP3 million may borrow PhP10,000 up to PhP200,000 while small enterprises with asset size of not more than PhP10 million may borrow a higher loan amount but will not exceed PhP500,000.

“Ang DTI ay dapat magbigay pa nga ng puhunan sa mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho at gustong makaahon sa kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagnenegosyo sa online. Sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, mas magandang nasa tahanan lang sila at nag-nenegosyo. Nabibigyan pa nila ng trabaho ang mga delivery service riders.” Gatchalian said.

“Hindi lang basta ayuda ang hinihingi ng mga negosyanteng ito. Ang hinihingi nila ay malaya silang bigyan ng oportunidad na makapag-negosyo para may kita sila,” he added.

Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, issued the statement following Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) move to require online sellers to register their business until July 31, and pay taxes if they are earning higher than P250,000 a year.

The lawmaker believes that registering businesses with the BIR is ineffective since its system requires an applicant’s physical presence at this time when people are still being restricted from leaving their homes.

“Nakita ko na hindi rin handa ang ating pamahalaan na buwisan ang ating mga maliliit na negosyante dahil yung ultimong pagre-rehistro ay hindi pa sila handa kaya huwag na nating ipilit sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, dahil hindi lang marami ang naghihirap kundi marami rin ang natatakot na lumabas ng kanilang bahay,” he stressed.

Aside from providing capital, Gatchalian also urged the DTI to make use of the Philippine Innovation Law to enhance the competitiveness of these online sellers.

The law aims to harness innovation efforts to help the poor, the marginalized, and MSMEs to be a part of the domestic and global supply chain.

Karapatan ng consumers, mas mapapangalagaan sa pagpaparehistro ng online sellers – DTI

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Malaking benepisyo sa mga consumer kung magpaparehistro sa Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) ang online sellers, ayon sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Sa isang panayam sa programang Get It Straight with Daniel Razon ngayong Lunes, sinabi ni DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo na mas mapapangalagaan ang karapatan ng mga consumer kung may datos na hawak ang pamahalaan hinggil sa operasyon ng online sellers.

Ani Castelo, noon pa man ay marami na silang natatanggap na reklamo laban sa online sellers at lumobo pa ito sa panahon ng community quarantine.

Aniya, marami ang sumabak sa pagbebenta ng produkto online matapos makansela ang pasok sa trabaho at operasyon ng pampublikong transportasyon dahil sa COVID-19 crisis.

Mula sa mahigit 900 reklamo laban sa online sellers mula Enero hanggang Marso ngayong taon ay umakyat ito sa mahigit 8,000 mula Abril hanggang Mayo.

Karamihan aniya sa mga reklamo ay tungkol sa nabiling depektibong produkto o kaya ay pagpapataw ng mas mataas na presyo ngunit hindi naman nahahabol ang mga inirereklamong online sellers dahil nagpapalit lang ang mga ito ng pangalan o kaya ay tini-take down ang kanilang page.

Ani Castelo, maaaring maiwasan ang ganitong insidente kung naka-rehistro ang  negosyo at impormasyon ng online sellers.

Sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang sistema, kailangang makipag-ugnayan ng DTI sa Cybercrime Division ng National Bureau of Investigation o ng Philippine National Police upang matunton ang IP address ng isang online seller kung may reklamo ang isang customer.

“Ang nagiging issue po for consumer protection, they are virtual, wala po silang physical address. So, web page lang or yung kanilang site sa internet hindi po natin masyadong napo-proteksyunan ang mga consumers dahil dito,” ani Castelo.

Binigyang-diin naman ni Castelo na ang panawagan ng BIR na pagpaparehistro sa online sellers ay para lamang makabuo ang pamahalaan ng database o registry ng online businesses upang matiyak na sumusunod ang mga ito sa Consumer at Price Act at mapangalagaan din ang kapakanan ng consumers.

“Ang importante po mahihiram natin sa BIR at mate-trace natin, makaka-build po tayo ng database at mabi-build natin ang ating registry ng lahat ng online sellers, mas madali na po ang consumer protection na magagawa natin,” sabi ng opisyal.

Sinabi rin ni Castelo na boluntaryo ang pagpaparehistro dahil wala pa namang batas sa bansa na mag-oobliga sa registration ng online sellers

Sa panig naman ng BIR, iginiit nitong walang dapat ipangamba ang online sellers sa pagpaparehistro ng kanilang negosyo dahil hindi naman sila bubuwisan kung maliit lang ang kanilang kinikita.

Sa ilalim ng Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, ang mga negosyong gumagamit ng digital platform o electronic commerce at kumikita ng mas mababa sa P250,000 sa isang taon ay hindi pagbabayarin ng buwis.

Ayon kay BIR deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa, layon lamang ng inilabas nilang memorandum circular kamaikailan na malaman kung sinu-sino ang online sellers at kung magkano ang kanilang kinikita.

Iginiit rin ni Guballa na malalaking online selling platforms ang target nilang buwisan.

“Ang gusto talaga namin later on na ita-tax ng gobyerno is yung malalaki, yung Lazada, Shopee, Netflix. ‘Yung gaya ng mga kababayan natin na nandyan lang sa bahay eh hindi naman po yun yung tinatrget itax ng BIR. Sila ay parte ng sistema na gusto namin makita ang data,” ani ng opisyal.

Binigyan-diin rin ng opisyal na sa ilalim ng National Internal Revenue Code, kailangang magpa-rehistro at magdeklara ng kinikita sa BIR ang sinumang may negosyo, mapa-pisikal man ito o online. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

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