House defers ‘sin tax’ hearings

THE House ways and means committee yesterday deferred further hearings on proposals amending the sin tax law to give major players to study the proposed legislations.

Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, senior vice chairman of the committee on ways and means, said officials of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC), Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corp. , La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory, JT International Philippines, Inc. and the Philippine Tobacco Institute have submitted their letters requesting for more time to study the proposed House measures.

In his letter addressed to committee chairman Rep. Hermilando Mandanas, Chris Nelson, president of PMFTC, said PMFTC is in the process of evaluating the provisions of the bills and drafting comments. Mandanas is said to be part of the country’s contingent of President Aquino’s visit in the US.

“We request for additional time to complete evaluation of the bills.Rest assured that we will submit our official position paper. We trust that the 15th Congress will continue to support the implementation of the current excise tax law (RA 9334) until its expiration in 2011,” Nelson said.

Roger Lamb, general manager of JT International Philippines Inc., in his letter to Mandanas, also requested for more time to submit their company’s position paper to the committee on ways and means.

Considering the complexities and need to obtain information regarding the financial impact of the bills, Lamb said they are requesting for more time to submit their position paper or comments on the excise tax proposals.

Blake Clinton Dy, assistant vice president of Associated Anglo-American Tobacco Corp., in his letter thanked the committee for giving them the opportunity to participate in the panel’s discussions but said they cannot attend Tuesday’s hearing as the company has yet to formulate a formal position on each of the proposed bills.

“Though we are the smallest among all cigarette manufacturing companies operating in the Philippines, we maintain a nationwide distribution network for our products. Each of the proposed tax increases, even singly would drastically affect the sustainability of our operations,” Dy said.

Tuesday’s hearing was the committee’s second deliberation of House Bills 2484 seeking an additional excise tax of 10 percent on alcohol products to generate funds for education purposes; HB 2485 seeking an additional P3 tax per pack of cigar and cigarettes; HB 2687 seeking to restructure the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products; and HB 3059 seeking to promote equitable sharing of costs and benefits in the alcohol and tobacco industry.  Dino Ng


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