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More savings on water and power bills for the elderly are approved by a House panel.

On Monday, a House panel adopted a plan that would increase the discount given to older citizens on their monthly electric and water use and exempt such bills from the value-added tax.

The House Committee on Ways and Means adopted the substitute bill to House Bills No. 1903 and 3040, which would alter Republic Act No. 7432, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, at the online hearing.

The exemption would still be subject to a consumption quota, according to Albay Representative Joey Salceda, chair of the panel, but the ceiling for power usage in the substitute bill has been increased from 100 to 150-kilowatt hours. The amount of water available is limited to 30 cubic meters.

According to Salceda, the bill includes a safeguard against abuse.

“The law expressly stipulates that the senior must reside in the household in order to qualify for the exemptions and reductions,” he noted.

The bill directs the National Commission on Senior Citizens to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the measure in consultation with the Energy Regulatory Commission, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and other concerned utility regulatory agencies, as well as national senior citizen organizations.

In response to the Department of Finance’s concern that the move would cause leaks, Salceda assured that leaks could be prevented by implementing protection measures.

“We must ensure that the safeguards are in place in order to prevent leaks.” “However, the likelihood of leaking should not be used as an argument against the measure’s goals,” he stated.

Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes of the Senior Citizens Party-list asked his colleagues to continue providing institutionalized aid in fundamental social services to the country’s 10 million seniors.

“This is our ongoing response to the problem of developing crucial legislative ideas that will have a big impact on the lives of our marginalized seniors, bridging their involvement and access to the benefits of a sustained and enhanced quality of life,” he said.

Aside from the larger reductions, Ordanes stated that the idea would eliminate the value-added tax on power and water bills registered in the names of older residents.

“Kaya’t tiyak na mararamdaman ng ating mga nakatatanda ang ginhawa kapag naisabatas na ito (That’s why the elderly would feel the relief (from financial load) once these are put into law),” he added.

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