Will PM still be the key? House bill seeks to protect online buyers and sellers with new bureau

from Facebook: Philippine Congress Watch

Have you been scammed off your online purchase recently? If so, then you might want to get behind this landmark bill for a better e-commerce experience.

House Bill 6122, or the proposed Internet Transaction Act, was bill seeks to establish an E-Commerce Bureau which will be tasked to regulate online transactions, oversee and investigate all online customer complaints, enact stronger online consumer protection measures, and to administer trust marks and other services to registered online businesses.

With the Department of Trade and Industry at the helm, the bureau will hopefully be responsible for preventing unauthorized e-commerce activity and lessening online scams, which has led to an atmosphere of mistrust among online shoppers.

Should the bill be signed into law, any entities conducting business online — from multinational e-commerce companies to micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs — will be required to register under the bureau.

Being a registered business means qualifying for future government incentives and programs meant for SMSEs conducting business online. However, this also means being mandated to comply with applicable income tax laws, as well as fulfilling the foreseen regular renewal procedure.

Filed by Valenzuela City 1st District Representative and  House Committee on Trade and Industry chairperson Weslie Gatchalian last January 30, the bill is based on the skyrocketing number of consumer complaints and illegal e-commerce activities in recent years. This comes timely as the Internet becomes the favored marketplace for necessary goods amid the quarantine

According to DTI, complaints involving online transactions rose by 78.22 percent, or 8,059 complaints, just before the peak of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. The report cites concerns such as overpriced items, difficult and even non-existent return processes, and fraudulent sellers, concerns that Gatchalian seeks for the bill to solve.

This also comes after the Bureau of Internal Revenue revitalized its call to come after businesses who are conducting their business online but aren’t duly filing their income tax. The revenue agency, together with the DTI, have voiced their support for the bill, saying that the existing E-Commerce Act, signed way back in 2000, needs to be revisited and renewed.

While businesses have so far welcomed the proposed incentives and protections, not all share this sentiment. Specifically, individuals who conduct their business from home and resort to online marketplaces to sell their handmade goods are upset over having to be taxed for their small informal business.


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