Thursday, February 22, 2024

Solons call for accessible gov’t portals, moratorium on fund transfer fees

Sen. Grace Poe has asked government agencies to see to it that their websites are up and running all the time, while Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian urged the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and local banks to suspend the collection of fees on online money transfers while Covid-19 cases peak.

Sen. Grace Poe

Poe’s appeal comes after reports reached her office that a number of drivers seeking to renew license or apply for a new one are encountering difficulties in getting through the Land Transportation Management System (LTMS).

The LTMS serves as the online platform for all motoring regulatory services and processes from the LTO. The portal also caters to neophyte applicants who will apply for a driver’s license and vehicle registration for the first time.

“Government portals should be exemplars of reliability. They could not be down when people need their services,” Poe said.

She stressed that government agencies should invest in continuously upgrading its system, fortifying firewalls against hackers and developing user-friendly interface with the public.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Poe said the people have turned to government portals for needs like health services, job hunting, virtual courts, online education, license renewal, business and other permits.

“Our people expect these services to be offered online and in simple process,” Poe said. “Optimizing government websites around the users’ needs and experience is crucial.”

Poe also proposed to install or improve the government portals’ chat bubble, if there is already one.

“One reason people visit government websites is to have quick answers to their questions. They should be able to find those through live chats that can readily respond to the information they need,” she said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

Gatchalian, meanwhile, said a fee-less money transfer service and payment transaction can be a temporary relief measure to the public amid the raging pandemic.

He noted this proposition had been employed by the BSP and some BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) when Metro Manila was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in April 2020 and even when the lockdown was extended in May 2020.

Some banks waived the collection of electronic fund transfer (EFT) service fees for InstaPay and PesoNet transactions until the end of last year.

Instapay transfers a daily limit of P50,000 with transaction fees ranging from P0 to P40 while PesoNet transfers a daily limit of P200,000 with transaction fees ranging from P0 to P775 as of November 30, 2021

“It will be better if financial institutions and companies offering e-wallet services also extend the same relief to the public to help lessen the queuing in payment and cash transactions,” the senator said.

Dahil dito, maeengganyo pa natin ang ating mga kababayan na manatili na lang sa kanilang mga tahanan at idaan na lang ang transaksyon sa pamamagitan ng online. Mas mapapabilis na ang serbisyo, makakaiwas pa sa sakit. Mas mapapabilis ang pagbabalik normal ng ating pamumuhay kung magtutulungan tayo,” Gatchalian said.

In the most recent BSP figures, the share of digital payments on the volume of retail transactions increased further to 20.2% in 2020 from 14% in 2019. According to BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, this means that one out of five payment transactions last year were done digitally.

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