THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that it received relatively few complaints in 2023 from senior citizens over the honoring of their discount privileges.
“We received only 136 complaints… so it is a very small number and most of them have been referred to the Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA),” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual told reporters last week.
Asked to comment, Assistant Trade Secretary for the Consumer Protection Group Amanda F. Nograles said in a Viber message that overall, consumer-related complaints received by the department last year totaled less than 30,000.
“Of the total, only 136 complaints (concern) senior citizen discounts and privileges,” she said.
Ms. Nograles said that the 20% discount for senior citizens and their value-added tax exemption is within the mandate of OSCA and National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC).
“The role of the DTI concerning senior citizens’ discounts will (involve) the 5% special discount for basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) if senior citizens are buying from supermarkets and groceries,” Ms. Nograles said.
Ms. Nograles said that the department has been accepting complaints about the implementation of the 20% discount in observance of a “no wrong door policy.”
“Since this is ultimately a consumer issue, we accept the complaints and then we refer those to OSCA in the respective local government units to file a case,” she said.
“The primary mandate of the DTI is only to ensure the 5% discount on the selling of BNPCs to senior citizens, but the 20% discount in pharmacies and other establishments (is) within the mandate of the OSCA and NCSC,” she added.
Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 grants senior citizens a 20% discount and an exemption from the value-added tax on applicable goods for their exclusive use and enjoyment.
The government may also grant special discounts to senior citizens on the purchase of BNPCs, subject to the guidelines set by the DTI and the Department of Agriculture.
Ms. Nograles, however, reminded consumers that they are not allowed to avail of double discounts and that establishments should allow consumers to choose whatever they deem is a better discount.
“The rule is if the item is on a promotional discount and a senior citizen is buying the item, it should be the consumer’s choice what discount to use whichever is more favorable,” she said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile