DSWD to establishments: Give senior citizens 20% discount or else

Starting Tuesday, a jail term of up to one year and a fine await establishments that refuse to give senior citizens a full 20-percent discount in medicines, goods and services.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) made the reminder as it started implementing the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

"Pag di sumunod, may tinik ang batas na ito. Pwede magsampa ng kaso laban sa kanila, pwede dalhin ang kaso sa central office namin ... at kung mapatutunayan na di nagbigay ng kaukulang serbisyo sa senior citizens may parusa doon ... six months to 1 year at may fine (Establishments that do not follow the law may face charges. If found guilty, they face jail terms of six months to one year, and a fine)," DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman said in an interview on dzBB radio.

On the other hand, she said other benefits for senior citizens are still in the works. These include discounts in utility bills, including electric and water services.

Soliman said the DSWD is still coordinating with service providers and cooperatives to make sure senior citizens and not their younger kin benefit from lower bills.

"Sa isang bahay maaring nakatira ang senior citizen pero di siya ang nagbabayad. Ang ganyang situation ating inaayos para siguradong yung mga senior citizen ang nakikinabang (In a household, the senior citizen may be the one listed in the bill but may not necessarily benefit from lower bills. We are trying to make sure it is the senior citizen who benefits)," she said.

Also, Soliman said the DSWD is still working out the mechanics of a monthly pension for senior citizens from poor families.

She said her department is still talking to the budget department.

"Pumasok tayo sa serbisyo publiko na malaki ang budget deficit ... Hindi pwede mangyari sinubukan ngayon, eh 2 to 3 months titigil na (We entered government with a big budget deficit. We cannot start giving the pension and stop it after two to three months)," she said.

Last month, then Social Welfare acting Secretary Celia Yangco signed implementing rules and regulations for the expanded senior citizens' act.

The act exempts senior citizens from the 12-percent value added tax (VAT), effectively allowing them full 20-percent discount on purchases.

Before the new law's implementation, senior citizens were entitled to only eight percent of the mandated 20 percent discount because of the VAT. There are around six million senior citizens in the country.

The full 20-percent discount covers purchases of medicine and essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment; medical, dental, and diagnostic and laboratory fees; fares for buses, jeepneys, taxis, shuttle services, railways, domestic air and sea transports.

It also grants five-percent discount on consumption of no more than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water per month, provided the individual meters for the utilities are registered in the names of the senior citizens.

But the grant of the 20-percent full discount on purchases of medicines, which account for the bulk of purchases of senior citizens, was a source of concern for drugstores and pharmacies and for small establishments.

Finance officials had estimated the law may translate to government revenue losses of up to P1.7 billion.

Source: GmaNews

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