Solon: Exempt online sellers from fees

Alfred Delos Santos
Ang Probinsyano paryt-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos

AS more jobless Filipinos are turning to online selling to help them survive amid shrinking employment opportunities due to the health crisis, a party-list lawmaker has appealed to local government units (LGUs) and national agencies to exempt online sellers from business registration fees.

No less than President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has made it clear in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday that government will intensify its efforts to help businesses, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“I hope our LGUs and even the concerned national agencies will heed the call of President Duterte. Our small businesses need the government’s help and compassion, and I believe this is the right thing to do right now,” Ang Probinsyano paryt-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos, a friend of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) led by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as President, said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported last month that 7.3 million adult Filipinos lost their jobs in April alone because of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has predicted joblessness to reach as high as 10 million by end-December 2020.

These economic uncertainties have forced many unemployed to turn to micro and small businesses to make ends meet, selling food and all sorts of products mostly on digital platform.

“The adverse impact of the pandemic has created a new breed of Filipino business people with strong entrepreneurial spirit. Once again, many of our kababayans have proven their resiliency and ability to rise above and to rise again despite adversity,” Delos Santos said.

“Bilang tulong sa ating mga kababayan na ngayon ay kabilang na sa hanay ng MSMEs, sana ay suklian natin ang kanilang katatagan sa kabila ng pagsubok at kawalan ng trabaho. Baka pwedeng exempted muna sila sa mga registration fees pansamantala,” he added.

Before the pandemic shattered the Philippine economy, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) account for 99 percent of the businesses in the country, according to official data, which are responsible for creating 63 percent of employment in 2018.

Delos Santos, an advocate of MSMEs as an important pillar of poverty alleviation, said that small businesses should enjoy a waiver in registration fees from the LGUs all the way up to national agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“This way, more MSMEs will be encouraged to register with their local government units and even with the DTI and the BIR and which will also enable these agencies to exercise reasonable regulation over them in the future. What should be the priority at this point in time is to assist these new MSMEs, strengthen them so they will be encouraged to register,” the lawmaker said.

At the same time, Delos Santos urged the government to step up their campaign in educating the new small businesses of the advantages of being registered with the DTI and the BIR, as many move to digitized selling and marketing.

“May mga benepisyo naman kapag rehistrado ang mge negosyo—maliit man o malaki. Mas madali po ang makapangutang sa mga bangko para sa dagdag na kapital kung tayo ay rehistrado. Ang mga lehitimong negosyante ay nabibigyan yan din ng ayuda ng pamahalaan tulad ng ipinatupad ng DOLE at SSS (Social Security System) nitong mga nakaraang buwan,” Delos Santos explained.

Business registration with the DTI varies from P200 to P2,000, while registration with the BIR is P500 plus printing cost of about 1,500 for official receipts of 10 booklets. Business registration, meanwhile, with the LGU varies depending on the rules of cities or municipalities.