The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) says that efficient and affordable e-commerce will sustain economic activities and drive growth as the country recovers from the impact of the pandemic as well as transition into the new normal. Three separate surveys targeting the agriculture industry, service and consumer sectors as well as the general public were released by the NEDA-led Inter-Agency Task ForceTechnical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning in the first week of April.

Data from the consumer survey (comprising almost 400,000 respondents) shows that more than 50 percent in the non-government sector suffered a decline in income attributed mainly to unemployment. Many also had difficulty accessing products and services due to business closures, curfew impositions and travel restrictions.

“Online shopping and marketing platforms will play bigger roles in the new normal as businesses and consumers increase the use of electronic transactions, including cashless payment systems and other financial technology platforms. Businesses need to innovate and make full use of technology to resume operations and cater to consumer needs and preferences while still managing the risks of COVID-19 infection,” says NEDA Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua.

In the We Recover As One report, a recommended legislative action is to revisit the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000 for a more comprehensive detailing of transactions covered by the law, specified consumer rights and strengthened penalties for violators. Boosting the country’s information and communications technology infrastructure will also handle the surge of online transactions and meet consumer expectations. 

Cybersecurity measures and regulations for consumers and businesses are crucial to e-commerce, especially for financial institutions. Food safety laws, regulations and standards as well as sanitation protocols must also be observed to address the shift in consumer preference characterized by the rising demand for safe and nutritious food. According to Chua, the Financial Consumer Protection Bill will provide the regulatory framework to protect consumers and reinforce confidence in financial markets. Information and education campaigns on insurance policies must be disseminated to the general public so as to avoid confusion and misinformation.

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