Jul 10, 2010

‘Promos’ prompt fine-tuning of rules in senior citizens’ discount

So-called promo meals some restaurants offer have prompted the Department of Social Welfare and Development to fine-tune its enforcement of the 20-percent discount for senior citizens.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman on Friday said she will meet with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to see if restaurants are justified in denying a 20-percent discount for such promo meals.

“Aking uugnayin ang BIR at DTI tungkol diyan. (Pero) ang aking interpretation, ang 20-percent discount para sa senior citizens, promo o hindi, dapat ina-apply yan. Kailangan ibigay yan, promo o hindi (I will meet with the BIR and DTI on the matter. But my personal interpretation is that the 20-percent discount should apply regardless of the promo),” Soliman said in an interview on dzXL radio.

Soliman cited complaints reaching her office that some restaurants refused to grant the 20-percent discount for “value” meals being offered at discounted prices.

She noted senior citizens comprise less than 10 percent of the population. She said there are seven million senior citizens out of a population of 90 million.

“Kung 10 percent ang kakain doon araw-araw di malaking kalugihan yun (If less than 10 percent of their clients eat there and are entitled to discounts, I don’t think it will be a big loss for the establishments),” she said.

The DSWD on Tuesday started enforcement of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

A jail term of up to one year and a hefty fine await establishments that do not give senior citizens a full 20-percent discount in medicines, goods and services.

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

Now, senior citizens enjoy only eight percent of the mandated 20-percent discount because of the VAT. There are around six million senior citizens in the country.

The 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.

No excuses

On the other hand, Soliman said there are no excuses for big establishments to deny senior citizens of the discount.

Most big hotels and restaurants have a 20-percent discount for members of the diplomatic community, so they can easily make similar provisions for senior citizens, she said.

Also, she urged senior citizens to report violations of the law. Earlier, the DSWD said complaints can be sent through the text hotline 0999-3417425. — LBG, GMANews.TV

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