Top online shopping platform assures compliance with laws amid proposal to tax e-commerce firms

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) – A leading online shopping platform in the country assured customers it is complying with laws amid a lawmaker’s proposal to tax digital services, including e-commerce platforms.

Lazada Philippines chief operating officer Carlos Barrera said his company maintains strict standards in monitoring the compliance of all sellers to necessary requirements and providing customers great experience.

“We have always made sure that everyone joining the platform has the right requirements and documents," said Barrera. "We have an entire team monitoring not just the sellers joining the platform but to ensure the customer experience is seamless.”

Proving the people’s trust in their platform, Barrera noted that Lazada's sales increased up to 15 times during the quarantine period, especially in essential goods like food, personal care, and household items.

The Lazada COO also noticed that people are shifting to cashless modes of payment, saying it minimizes physical contact to avert the spread of COVID-19 among their delivery personnel and customers.

The increase in consumer demand shows that the presence of online shopping platforms is rapidly growing in the country, Barrera stressed.

“We don’t look too much on current revenue," he said. "We’re more in the stage of building a platform and building the engagement to ensure those buyers and sellers currently joining the platform, they really see the value of e-commerce.”

Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay's 2nd District recently filed House Bill 6765 or the “Digital Economy Taxation Act of 2020" to raise more revenues in the national government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed measure includes taxing digital services, including online shopping platforms like Lazada.

Salceda said only 50 percent of vendors who sell their goods and services in online marketplaces pay value added tax.

The Albay lawmaker also suggested that online shopping platforms must be tapped as withholding tax agents of their suppliers.

Barrera, however, clarified that they are not a retailer and their role is merely to connect buyers and sellers of products.

“As a platform, what matters is that we are connecting buyers and sellers," he explained. "But we are not a retailer. We’re always connecting entities.”

He also assured customers that they fully cooperate with different government agencies in following relevant laws in the business.

Barrera added that his company is closely monitoring Salceda’s bill.

“We’re here for long term, now eight years," shared Barrera, as he highlighted Lazada’s efforts to help non-governmental organizations and micro, small, and medium enterprises during the pandemic.

"Our goal is not just to comply, but to do more,” he said.