MANILA (UPDATE)—A member of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s private sector advisory council said on Monday the government’s finance managers should rethink its plan to tax digital services in its push to beef up the economy.
Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, who was designated lead for jobs and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the council, said the effect on smaller businesses must be considered in imposing the tax.
“Eventually I guess taxes have to be collected, pero this is something that maybe we can rethink kasi what we have to do is encourage more people to use the digital platforms, kasi mas inclusive ‘to,” Concepcion told reporters at a Go Negosyo event in Taguig City.
The tax on online transactions and streaming services was seen as an “only fair” move by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Concepcion said measures to tax digital purchases must not stunt the ability of MSMEs to enter the digital sphere and expand their reach there.
He noted the rise of digital platforms has democratized business, adding the sector should allow greater inclusivity.
“Bigyan natin ng win-win ‘yan. Kasi ang gusto natin ‘yong mga maliliit na negosyante will be helped. So minsan, mahirap pumasok sa malalking tindahan, kailangan sikat ang brand mo. Pero dito sa maliliit, digital platforms, you have the chance to showcase your product,” he said.
A retailers group said it fully supports the tax proposal as a means of paving the way for “true competition” in the industry.
They also agreed with the Department of Finance’s (DOF) planned tax on single-use plastic products.
Concepcion, for his part, said the plastics tax should be implemented similarly whether for purchases in physical or online stores.
“Dapat tingnan kung ano ang ginagawa sa offline sa binebenta sa supermarket. Dapat fair. Dapat online and offline have to have the same rules,” he said.
The DOF is eyeing the new taxes to generate P349 billion in revenues between 2023 and 2027 and help pay the country's P12.5 trillion debt.
Concepcion, meanwhile, said digitalization would help equalize the footing of smaller businesses with larger ones and expand their reach.
He added the pandemic enabled the rise of platforms like transport and delivery apps and e-wallets and in the process create more jobs and opportunities.
“Digitalization is one of the mentoring programs that we’re doing right now, para malaman ng mga MSMEs natin na ‘yong modern platforms gaya ng Shopee, Lazada, Foodpanda, marami pa diyan, na kaya nilang gamitin para they can reach the consumers, ‘di lang sa supermarket o tindahan but online,” Concepcion told reporters.
Go Negosyo plans to organize a digital summit in 2022.
During the program, Concepcion said the Marcos administration can count on the support of the private sector in the country’s development.
“Of course, Congressman Sandro Marcos will be a great ally with us in Congress. We hope that he champions the digital mobility, the problems that you are experiencing, and hopefully, we really solve our problem with poverty,” he said.
SANDRO: MARCOS ADMIN TO CHAMPION MSMES
Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Sandro Marcos, the first son of the President, meanwhile, assured the administration’s backing for the initiatives of MSMEs and would also push for their welfare in Congress.
“I came here on behalf of my father, on behalf of the administration to show that we for the next 6 years, will ensure that we will do everything we can as an administration to be the champion of micro, small, and medium enterprises and if there is anything we can do to help,” he said.
He said trade secretary Alfredo Pascual, who was unable to go to the event, was also an advocate for MSMEs.
The 28-year-old representative added the public sector would learn a lot from businesses on digitalization.
“There’s so many platforms here that are so good and so efficient that I think given that digitalization of a lot of bureaucratic agencies in government I think I can safely say, we have much to learn from all you and we will need all of your help over the next 6 years,” Marcos said.
“I hope this is a start of a very prosperous, very symbiotic relationship between the 2 sectors.”
Rep. Marcos was one of the congressmen who filed the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises (GUIDE) Bill as the first House bill in the 19th Congress.
The bill would seek to provide financial aid to MSMEs, particularly allocating P10 billion in funds for the assistance.
Among the neophyte lawmaker’s other first bills are measures on e-governance and internet transactions.
Citing the advice of health experts, Concepcion said a high level of booster coverage has to be met before face masks are made optional outdoors.
“The removal of masks outdoors has to be done only when 70% of those who have taken the primary doses have been boosted. Anything lower than that, the doctors do not suggest. Why? Because we don’t want to increase the level of infection that eventually can turn into severe cases,” he said in an interview with reporters in Taguig City.