January 22, 2010

PHILIPPINES: Senior citizens now enjoy 20 percent discount on goods and services

. MANILA, Philippines / Manila Bulletin / Lifestyle / January 22, 2010 Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act approved By Hannah L. Torregoza A Congress bicameral conference committee has approved the reconciled version of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act exempting senior citizens from the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) to allow them full enjoyment of the 20 percent discount on basic goods and services. Senator Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice and the bill’s principal author, said the measure was approved Wednesday night by both contingencies from the Senate and the House of Representatives. Sen. Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano is the youngest woman elected in the history of the Philippine Senate. She is a lawyer, triathlete and mother of two. The bicameral report is expected to be submitted for ratification by both houses of Congress next week before it is forwarded to Malacañang for the President’s signature. Twelve-percent VAT exemption of senior citizens will apply to the purchase of medicines and essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment; fees of attending physicians; and medical, dental fees and diagnostic and laboratory fees. Likewise, they would also enjoy full discounts on fares for buses, jeepneys, taxis, AUVs, shuttle services, public railways, domestic air transport and other vessels; services in hotels, restaurants and similar establishments; admission fees in cinemas, theaters and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and funeral and burial services for the death of senior citizens. Cayetano said senior citizens have long been clamoring for VAT exemption to enable them to fully enjoy the 20 percent senior citizens discounts embodied in the original Senior Citizens Act passed years ago. She said the discount had been effectively reduced to eight percent since seniors are also required to pay the 12 percent VAT in their purchase of medicines and services. Indigent senior citizens will also be entitled to a monthly stipend of P500 which will be subject to a periodic review of Congress in coordination with the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD). In case of death of an indigent senior citizen, an amount of P2,000 will also be awarded to his or her nearest kin as death benefit. Under the bill, senior citizens may also enjoy a five percent discount on water and electric bills on the condition that the utilities are named under the senior citizen residing in the household. Consumption for electricity and water should be below 100 kilowatt-hours and 30 cubic meters per month, respectively, to enjoy the discount. Likewise, the measure increases penalties for establishments that refuse to grant senior citizens benefits. Violating establishments including their owners, managers and personnel may be fined a penalty of not less than P10,000 but not more than P50,000, or imprisonment of not less than a month but not more than six months.[rc] Copyright 2010. Manila Bulletin