Roperos: Senior citizen benefits

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

I AM wondering now whether the much-publicized laws passed by Congress before the last elections have really been enacted or not. After Sen. Pia Cayetano’s measure providing more benefits to senior citizens was passed by the Senate, for example, I still have to enjoy the benefits provided for by the said law.

Senior citizens had good reasons to be happy about the Cayetano law. For one, it was supposed to have added more teeth to the law and given more benefits to senior citizens.

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Also, it exempted the said benefits from the payment of value-added tax (VAT), which is deeply significant to the old folks. Before, the discounts the senior citizens got from restaurants, drug-stores, etc. were taken back by VAT.

Moreover, I was made to understand that service agencies, including those of government, should now extend such benefits to senior citizens. Otherwise, it would be unfair for small enterprises and establishments to grant such favors to the “seniors” while electric, water and communication service providers are excused.

My point is that, lately, I tried to ask the Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) III, which covers my hometown, Balamban, to reflect in my monthly bill my benefits as a senior citizen.

I did the same thing to TMSI/PLDT for my telephone bill and the Balamban Rural Waterworks & Sanitation Association for my water bill.

Their responses to my request made me doubt whether the Cayetano law truly exists or not. For it appears that the three private and public service agencies I approached did not seem to know or were not ready to implement the law.

If the law does exist, meaning it ought to have been implemented already, then small taxpayers like drugstores and restaurants, bus companies and theaters, which have been extending such benefits to the seniors, are placed at a disadvantage.

Then there is the matter of VAT exemption. If small taxpayers are now including VAT exemption to the discounts given to their senior clients, then the unfairness is doubled.

Benefitting from this would be the “big business boys.” Firms like Cebeco III, TMSI/PLDT and the water districts are collecting VAT from senior citizens. Since the seniors are supposedly exempt from VAT, where would they turn over the tax collected?

Of course, I am just inquiring here. Being a senior citizen the past twenty years, I am quite conscious of the high cost of health maintenance. Discounts and VAT exemption can go a long way in easing the difficulties senior citizens are experiencing.

Roperos senior citizen benefits

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