By Filane Mikee Cervantes

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – A joint panel of the House of Representatives on Tuesday directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the senior citizen’s discount on basic goods from PHP65 per week to PHP125 per week, or a total of PHP500 per month.

During the hearing, the House committees on senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and ways and means approved the motion directing the DTI and DA to revise the administrative order granting special discounts to senior citizens on the purchase of groceries by increasing the cap on discounts to PHP125 weekly.

Under the current system, promulgated through DTI-DA Joint Administrative Order 10-02, senior citizens are entitled to a special discount of 5 percent of the regular retail price, without exemption from value-added tax, of basic necessities. The total value of goods discounted is capped at PHP1,300 per week, or a PHP65 discount.

House ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda said the proposed new rate was determined by using food inflation rates from 2010 to 2024.

“Using food inflation rates, we determined that by now the total value of the discount should have been adjusted to around PHP126.31 per week. So, adjustment to PHP125 is more or less where we should be by now,” Salceda said.

“The DTI and the DA are so directed to adjust the rates prescribed in the administrative order… This is just an administrative order, so it can be adjusted with immediate effect.”

He said the estimated cost to society of these discounts is at least PHP31.1 billion every year, which is a “burden shared equally among all others.”

“This is the overarching doctrine of these discounts – everyone else has a responsibility to take care of elders, simply because everyone else will become elders at some point. The policy decision we have made as a society is that we will all distribute the burden amongst ourselves, as sellers will likely pass these costs on to other consumers,” he said.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier directed a technical working group to study his proposal of increasing the discounts on groceries and food supplements for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. (PNA)