Angara: All sectors welcome shift to digital payments

Published September 11, 2021, 3:28 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Government agencies and the private sector have welcomed the adoption of digital payments as a faster, safer and more efficient way of making transactions in the country, Senator Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara on Saturday, September 11, said.

Senator Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara (Senate PRIB)

Angara, author of Senate Bill 1764, or the Use of Digital Payments Act, said there was widespread support for the measure, “for as long as there are adequate safeguards in place to protect our people.

“Instituting digital payments, particularly in all government agencies, offices and local government units, is consistent with the thrust to promote ease of doing business. This will also go a long way in ensuring the efficient delivery of services to the people,” he said in a statement.

“Consumers have experienced the convenience of making digital payments—be it for buying goods, the payment of services or their monthly bills. Now we want to provide Filipinos the option of doing the same for their transactions with the government so that physically going to and lining up at city hall or other offices will no longer be necessary,” he added.

During the first hearing on the bill by the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies Sub-Committee on SB 1764, the government and private sector stakeholders provided their inputs, which Angara said would be taken into consideration in the crafting of the committee report.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) noted that the bill is in line with the strategies adopted in the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap 2023.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the adoption of digital payments is exceedingly significant in line with the need for contact-less transactions through financial technologies in transitioning to the new normal.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the objective of the bill is also aligned with the BSP’s roadmap converting at least 50 percent of volume of retail payments into digital form and having at least 70 percent of Filipino adults on board to the formal financial system by 2023. It could contribute to the improvement of the country’s status in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report by lowering transaction costs and reducing the time needed to transact with the government, he noted.

Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Michael Aguinaldo, meanwhile, said the use of various ICT platforms for digital payments in government operations would increase efficiency and decrease the room for corrupt practices through personal interactions with public officials.

Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay said the bill would make it easier for taxpayers to settle their taxes and fees.

The Joint Foreign Chambers and Philippine Business Groups likewise aired its support to the measure, saying the shift to digital and cashless payments would enable government to save some $100 million or P5 billion annually.

SB 1764 proposes to mandate the utilization of digital payment in the collection of taxes, fees, tolls, imposes and other revenues and in the payment of goods, services and other disbursements.

Angara said the bill would also facilitate the transfer of government payments such as the cash aid provided to targeted recipients during the enhanced community quarantine by directly transferring the money into their bank or digital accounts.

The House of Representatives has already approved its own version of the measure in House Bill 8992 filed by Bataan Representative Joet Garcia.