Higher goods discount for seniors, PWDs eyed | Inquirer News

Higher goods discount for seniors, PWDs eyed

/ 05:26 AM February 14, 2024

PHOTO: Senior woman in the aisle of a grocerty store shopping. STORY: Higher goods discount for seniors, PWDs eyed

BIGGER CUT | Seniors and people with disabilities may soon see their weekly discount on basic goods rise from P65 to P125 if the Departments of Trade and Industry, and Agriculture approve a suggestion from a House joint panel. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Citing current food inflation rates, a joint House committee directed on Tuesday the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the special weekly discount on basic goods given to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

The House committees on ways and means, and senior citizens made the motion to raise the discount cap from P65 to P125 per week, or a total of P500 per month, as they continued their motu proprio investigation of the implementation of laws on the benefits enjoyed by people age 60 and above or with disabilities.


Representatives from the DTI and the DA did not oppose the motion, but ways and means committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda clarified the directive would first need to be put into writing and forwarded to both agencies for action.


Currently, seniors and PWDs are entitled to a special five-percent discount on the regular retail price—without exemption from the value-added tax—of basic necessities under DTI-DA Administrative Order No. 10-02, as part of Republic Act No. 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act. The total value of goods they can avail themselves of once a week is capped at P1,300, entitling them to a discount of P65.

Basis for hike

Under the proposal of the joint panel, the weekly special discount would amount to 9.62 percent or P125. According to Salceda, they determined the new discount cap using current food inflation rates.

“We determined that by now, the total value of the discount should have been adjusted to around P126.31 per week. So, adjustment to P125 is more or less where we should be by now,” Salceda said. “At least, this is an empirically made policy decision rather than setting an arbitrary adjustment.”

READ: Senior citizens’ discount: Stirring debate over what’s right, wrong

Once the directive is enforced, this would increase the weekly discounts for seniors and PWDs fourfold. And since the basis is an administrative order, the discounts can be adjusted and become effective immediately.

Based on Salceda’s estimates, the new discount cap has an inflationary effect of around 0.04 percent, or around P31 billion annually.


Collective burden

However, he pointed out the need to carry the burden collectively, as “everyone else has a responsibility to take care of elders, simply because everyone else will become elders at some point.”

“The policy decision we have made as a society is that we will all distribute the burden amongst ourselves, as sellers will likely pass these costs on to other consumers,” Salceda said.

The panel plans to next take up issues regarding the availment of rehabilitative care benefits from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). This was after lawmakers learned that individual professionals were not eligible for PhilHealth benefits for speech pathology and occupational therapy.

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“Occupational therapy and rehabilitation is perhaps the most beneficial type of medical care because its aim is to make the patient productive again. So, as far as returns to society go, there is not only a moral gain but an economic benefit to it,” Salceda said.

TAGS: Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, persons with disability, senior citizens’ discount

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