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EDITORIAL: Exchange of goods

There was quite an uproar when Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted as saying barter trade is illegal except in three areas of the country – Siasi and Jolo in Sulu and in Bonggao, Tawi-Tawi.

In a report dispatched by the Philippine News Agency yesterday, Sec. Lopez clarified that “personal transactions, not in the course of trade and business, are not covered by registration requirements” but local barter trade should be registered and subject to tax if done in the course of business, he added.

Across the country, barter has become the craze since the lockdown with people exchanging all kinds of goods using social media platforms.

This was done not to do business, but to trade what they have in exchange for an item they would like to acquire. The item to be bartered does not come with a price tag, only what the owner wants to have in exchange – which could be a kilo of flour, baking items, plants, even vermicast. For some, it was a way to cope with the quarantine restrictions and to keep them busy while in their homes.

One enthusiast said “it’s a good system that breathes new life into old items that can still have value depending on the person who needs it. It’s also fun to interact with people and haggle on item equivalents.” Another also said that it has become “popular because people started realizing there is stuff they need, and some stuff they don’t.”

The exchange of goods is a personal transaction engaged by people who maybe want to clean their closet or dispose of things they no longer need.

Since it is not in a sense regular business, many believe there is no need for regulation. Without money or profit involved, asking the barter community to pay tax may just be taking it too far.

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