A SENATOR has filed a bill that seeks to protect consumers from unscrupulous online traders and boost the country’s e-commerce market.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian’s Senate Bill 1591 or the proposed Internet Transaction Act will create an e-Commerce Bureau under the Trade department that will act as a consumer complaint desk.

The agency will also develop programs to boost the country’s online retail sector.

Citing a Google and Temasek study, Mr. Gatchalian said the Philippine Internet economy posted a gross merchandise value of $7 billion last year.

This was lower than other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia with $11 billion, Vietnam and Singapore with $12 billion, Thailand with $16 billion and Indonesia with $40 billion.

“The country’s e-commerce market remains at 1.6% of the gross domestic product,” said Mr. Gatchalian, who is vice chairman of the economic affairs committee.

The proposed law will give incentives to entry-level micro enterprises by exempting them from national and local taxes in the first two years of operation.

It will also penalize online sellers that fail to register either as a sole proprietor, one-person corporation, partnership, corporation or cooperative with a fine worth 100% of the amount of the digital goods sold.

Online platforms that fail to show registered online sellers, their addresses and contact numbers and a clear breakdown of prices will be fined P500,000 to P5 million. — Charmaine A. Tadalan