House panel okays hike in elderly discount on water, power bills

November 29, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 188 views

THE House committee on ways and means chaired by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has approved a measure in substitution of House Bill 1903 and 3040 seeking to increase the senior citizens’ discount on water and power bills to 10 percent, and exempt such bills from value added tax (VAT).

The exemption would still be subject to a cap on consumption, but for electricity consumption, the cap is also increased in the substitute bill from 100-kilowatt hours to 150. The cap on water is kept at 30 cubic meters.

“We are approving this measure and commending the authors, senior members of this committee such as Senior Vice Chair Estrellita Suansing, and Rep. Mark Go, for the objectives of this proposal,” Salceda said.

Salceda moved to have the measure approved without amendment.

He also emphasized that the measure contains a safeguard against abuse.

“The measure explicitly states that the senior has to be living in the household subject to the exemptions and discounts,” Salceda said.

The measure is an amendment to Republic Act (RA) No. 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Once approved, the measure directs, the National Commission of Senior Citizens, in consultation with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and other concerned utility regulatory agencies, as well as national organizations of senior citizens, to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the measure.

In response to the objection of the Department of Finance (DoF) that the measure might result in leakages, Salceda said that “we have to make sure that the safeguards are implemented, so that we can avoid leakages. But the possibility of leakage alone should not be used as an argument against the objectives of the measure. The leakages can be plugged.”

The measure will still undergo plenary approval by the House, and a counterpart measure has to be approved in the Senate.