By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is determined to scale up consumer protection in the e-commerce marketplace amid the anticipated growth of digital transactions in the age of pandemic.
According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, they would closely monitor prices of goods online and guard against profiteering and other fraudulent practices online.
“Definitely we have to check on this business dahil lalo na ngayon na lalaki itong business na ito (because online businesses are expected to grow),” Lopez said during the “Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo” radio program last Friday hosted by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“So nandiyan ho ang consumer protection, nandiyan po ang price monitoring din (We have consumer protection and price monitoring) even online we make sure that the products being sold online will have the prices indicated,” he added.
He said consumers may report to trade department if they have complaints about the price and quality of goods and services purchased online. Consumer inquiries and complaints may be relayed to DTI’s four-digit hotline 1384.
“Ito po ay matutugunan ang inyo pong mga complaints dito. So the same protection is being granted by the Department of Trade and Industry para ho sa ating mga consumer na mga kababayan (The complaints may be addressed here. So the same protection is being granted by the Department of Trade and Industry to our consumers),” he said.
Lopez recognized that e-commerce transactions are expected to increase from 10 percent to 80 percent as more small and medium business are going digital.
“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 the future transactions,” he said.
“This is the way to go. And so with all the necessary protection, this will be assured by the DTI,” he added.
Lopez said the trade department also provides assistance, particularly webinars, to small businesses on how to engage in e-commerce programs and wide their market.
He said under the “Making Your Business Digital” webinar, entrepreneurs are given tips on how to sell their products online and adapt to digital payments.
“Actually maraming nagre-report na mas malakas pa iyong business nila ngayon kaysa noong dati, noong nabuksan sila sa online, mga website (Actually, many have reported that their businesses are stronger now than before since they opened their websites, went online),” he said.
Last June 5, President Duterte threatened to throw unscrupulous online scammers into Pasig River as he warned the public against falling for scams. He advised consumers to check the face masks sold online before paying for them.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) earlier reminded people engaged in online business to ensure their operations are registered and they are tax compliant on or before July 31.
The BIR memorandum triggered protests from some lawmakers and other concerned groups who claimed the government was adding to the burden small entrepreneurs reeling from the pandemic.
The Department of Finance later clarified that small entrepreneurs earning less than P250,000 annually will be subject to zero income tax. Sales below P3 million are also exempted from value added tax.
The government is merely asks online sellers to register with the BIR, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.