The House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday approved a substitute bill increasing the senior citizens’ discount on water and power bills to 10 percent, and exempt such bills from Value Added Tax (VAT).
Chaired by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, the committee approved the measure in substitution of House Bills 1903 and 3040 which seeks to amend Republic Act 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Salceda explained 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.
Salceda 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.
Once approved, the measure directs, the National Commission of Senior Citizens, in consultation with the Energy Regulatory Commission, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System 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 that the measure might result in leakages, Salceda said that “We have to make
sure that the safeguards are i plemented, so that we can avoid leakages. But the possibility of leakage alone should not be used as an argument against the obje tives 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.