MANILA, Philippines - Senator Bam Aquino said there is a need to create a healthy environment for the growth of online freelance industry in the country.
“We must create a healthy environment for online freelancers to grow in”, Aquino said during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship on the state of the country’s E-Commerce sector.
“Talking about the jobs we have created in the past years, this is a space that we’re not exploring enough of,” Aquino said.
Elance-oDesk country manager Ron Cirujano welcomed Aquino's statement. Elance-oDesk has one million Filipino members.
During the hearing, Cirujano explained that freelance online jobs include graphic designers, virtual assistants, marketing experts and programmers, to name a few.
Cirujano said these skilled online workers have earned more than P9 billion in the past four years. In Iligan alone, online workers have earned about P342 million since 2010.
Aquino encouraged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology -ICT to craft an e-Commerce Roadmap that will help concerned stakeholders, especially in terms of Internet speed and access.
“The rate of Internet access has increased about 10 to 15 percent since 2010 as a whole. The more we increase our Internet usage and Internet penetration, we are looking at a space where we can generate employment,” the senator said.
Aquino also urged the Bureau of Internal Revenue and DTI to relax their registration rules and provide incentives to encourage online-based workers to get into the formal economy.
“Let’s not cast fear among the online freelancers, if we can get them into a nurturing environment, we can actually help their businesses grow. Once they grow, they will provide employment, provide for their families and it will go back to the economy anyway,” he said.
“Let’s review the Barangay Micro Business Enterprise Law or BMBE Law --which exempts a business owner from paying income tax as long as its assets are not higher than P3 million, and see how it can be applied to online freelancers."