BAGUIO City Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan asked for the suspension of permits on online selling during Monday's (June 1) regular session.
"We are one in saying that we should regulate online selling, but not at this point where there is a pandemic," Olowan said.
The vice mayor, in a resolution, said the online selling business was not spared from the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Olowan added that requiring online sellers to process business permits at this moment of economic hardships is surely uncalled for and irrational, thus there is a need to extend a reprieve to the online sellers by suspending the processing and issuance of business permits, pending the final declaration of normalcy due to the public health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"There is a need to make an in-depth research and study anent the online selling business of its uniqueness as compared to other business under physical structures, the technology involved, the inter-geographical operation and the amount of income that will be derived thereon, knowing intelligently, the profiles and correct data of online selling and its background information shall enable this August body and the city's executive branch to formulate applicable requirements for the processing and issuance of business permits and appropriate imposition of taxes," Olowan said.
The resolution, approved during this week's regular session, asks for the suspension of processing and issuance of business permits for online selling pending the final declaration of normalcy due to the public health emergency caused the Covid-19 pandemic.
Olowan said the community quarantines caused by the Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected and is still adversely affecting the operations and profits of those in the business community.
As a reprieve to the business sector, the City Government had relaxed its existing regulations on the payments of business and real property taxes and rent on the city owned lots, buildings and market stalls.
Likewise, a social amelioration program initiated by the National Government in the form of financial assistance were given and relief goods were distributed and are still being distributed to the affected families and individuals.
Last week, Allan Abayao, Permits and Licensing Division officer, said there are about 52 registered online sellers in the city. As per initial inspection, some 250 online traders in the city selling food and non-food items have no special permits.
Abayao said the sudden emergence of unregulated e-commerce during the community quarantine period has resulted in numerous complaints against these unregistered online sellers regarding non-compliance with health safety standards and getting away with paying taxes.
Abayao said queries have mounted on whether or not there is need to obtain permits for online businesses to operate and advised online sellers to apply for business permits.
He said whatever piece of legislation the council comes up with will guide his office in its course of action regarding the matter. (With a report from Jordan Habbiling/Baguio City SP Public Information Office)