House panel OKs bill proposing higher discount for seniors' water, power bills

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 29) — The House ways and means committee has approved a measure raising the senior citizens’ discount on water and power bills to 10%, and exempting them from value added tax (VAT).

Under the proposed legislation, the VAT exemption would be capped at 150 kilowatt hours for electricity bills and 30 cubic meters for water bills.

During committee deliberations Monday, the Department of Finance opposed the measure, saying the proposed discounts may result in tax leakages, abuses and a more complicated tax administration.

“One possible leakage is when a household continues to enjoy the proposed benefit even if the declared senior citizen under whom the utilities are registered is no longer living," said DOF division chief Lyonel Tanganco.

However, committee chairman and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said there are enough safeguards against abuses in the bill.

“The measure explicitly states that the senior has to be living in the household subject to the exemptions and discounts,” Salceda said.

House committee on senior citizens chairman and Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes expressed hope that the bill will be approved by the House before lawmakers go on a break on Dec. 18.