By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion III has branded as “unfortunate” the move of the government to clamp down on small online sellers even as he urged the deferment of their registration to January next year to allow jobless Filipinos to earn while they are on quarantine.
Concepcion, who raised this during a webinar on how to “flatten the unemployment curve”, stressed the health crisis has presented new opportunities Filipinos like housewives who are now venturing into cooking for online selling. Unfortunately, he said, there is a clamp down on these activities.
He appealed to the government to allow this entrepreneurial spirit to continue for the rest of the year and then start implementing the registration requirement of the Bureau of Internal Revenue by January next year instead of the July 31 deadline.
Just as most of the country were placed under eased quarantine restrictions or General Community Quarantine starting June 1, the Bureau of Internal Revenue issued Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) 60-2020 ordering businesses earning income “through the use of any electronic platforms and media, and other digital means” to register and settle taxes on or before July 31. The tax agency warned that online merchants who fail to meet the deadline would incur penalties.
In 2013, BIR issued RMC 55-2013 reminding taxpayers that online sales are taxable, but only the latest circular imposed a deadline to settle these taxes and warned that surcharges may apply.
Concepcion noted this as Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bellow III said in the same webinar that 79,647 workers were retrenched from 2,611 businesses nationwide that closed their operations due to crisis. “Sad to say the numbers are growing,” said Bello. Already, there are 7 million unemployed and which could worsen to 10 million by end of the year.
Concepcion, who reiterated his call for continued rapid mass testing because such visibility will build confidence among consumers to spend and help fuel economic recovery, even said the 30 percent dine-in capacity would not make restaurants viable.
As mass testing is conducted, he urged for gradual reopening of businesses and to calibrate implementation of quarantine measures in areas with higher risk. Without reopening of businesses, the there is no amount of economic stimulus can prevent a recession.
Even if the government will pump in P1.3 trillion of economic stimulus fund, which he said is high, it will not solve this economic crisis.
Thus, mass testing is necessary because it is key to opening the economy as it will build confidence and people will start spending money otherwise people will continue saving their money risking the economy to go into recession.
In fact, the President Duterte’s adviser on entrepreneurship and founder of Go Negosyo said that if he had to do it his way, he would be going against lockdowns. He, however, added that the lockdowns have also positive impact as it allowed to government to buy some time for the establishment of testing centers and quarantine facilities and other measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The Philippines has implemented the longest lockdowns among countries, even longer than Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.