PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she will not veto the Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act giving the elderly a 20 percent discount in purchasing goods and services.

“I will certainly not veto it,” Arroyo said, pertaining to the bill favoring senior citizen that has been ratified by both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

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Press Secretary Crispulo Icban, who is a senior citizen himself, welcomed this development.

Icban said they are hoping to get the original intent of the law where senior citizens get full 20 percent discount when purchasing basic products and medicines and other consumer services.

Under the current law, elderly only enjoy eight percent discount due to the imposition of 12 percent value added tax (VAT).

Should this bill be signed into law, the Department of Finance (DOF) expected half a billion up to 1.3 billion peso erosion in annual fiscal revenue.

“Its minimal compared to the bigger figures of the deficit,” Icban said. “The deficit structure of the Philippines has eroded through the years, this exemption I think is not that big.”

The Palace official said it is the right time that the government gives back the tax they have paid.

“These are the taxes they get from us. This is for people who deserve to get it. So I’m all in favor of this if the President signs it, this is positive, not only for us but for the general public,” Icban related.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo echoed the position of Icban, saying the revenue loss will not be that big should the bill be enacted into law. “But I don’t want to preempt the President. It is still up to her.”

Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act entitles indigent or non-pensioner senior citizens to a monthly pension of P500; free medical insurance and disability assistance through PhilHealth, including free anti-flu and anti-pneumonia vaccines; and a P2,000 burial assistance.

The discount also applies in hotels, restaurants and similar establishments; cinemas, theaters and other places leisure and amusement; and funeral homes. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)