Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has expressed disappointment at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the absence of a system that will allow local businesses to register their operations online.
Gatchalian said that even with Covid-19 pandemic raging in the country, business owners have to physically go to BIR offices to register.
The lack of online registration system has prompted the BIR to move the deadline for online businesses to register their operations to September 30.
Gatchalian, meanwhile, is pushing for the proposed “Internet Transactions Act” to put in place strict regulations to protect consumers from unethical and unscrupulous business practices on the Internet.
He said Senate Bill 1591 aims to update the country’s regulatory environment to protect consumers on the goods and services being sold online.
The lawmaker said e-commerce makes transactions easier and faster while strengthening the country’s digital economy. He, however, raised concern that consumers may be fooled into buying products to the detriment of their health.
During a Senate inquiry on Thursday, Sept. 3, the lawmaker cautioned consumers of supplements they buy online, citing public health warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
He flagged the government regulatory body and online shopping platforms to get their acts together to easily track down those liable of unscrupulous online trading.
“This is a dilemma of the future. There are a lot of online platforms right now and they have the entire marketplace where suppliers can get all the products all over the world. Walang habol ang online buyers kung may problema sa nabili nilang produkto. They are left holding the bag. So, this is something that the bill wants to solve — to make online platforms liable so that they can keep track of the supplies they’re selling in the marketplace,” Gatchalian pointed out.
“What are they doing to stop this? Up to this time, this is still happening. Our kababayans are consuming all products they see online but obviously these online platforms are not doing enough,” he added.
Gatchalian took note of the significant increase in the number of online businesses registering with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) from March 16 to August 31, or a total of 73,276 businesses registered. This is a sharp rise from the 1,753 online businesses that have registered with the agency before the strict community quarantine was imposed in the country.
According to Gatchalian, it is paramount to pass the bill to resolve key concerns in the country’s e-commerce industry such as Internet and logistics infrastructure, payment mechanisms, taxation, and online consumer complaints.