Senate to give priorities on sin tax bills

EVEN some lawmakers are apprehensive and promise to block the Sin Tax bills pushed by the Palace, the Senate has included the measure  in the priority legislative agenda as decided during the concluded caucus Tuesday.

According to Sen. Franklin Drilon, Senate finance committee chairman, said that the passage of   the sin tax bill will help the government buttress its health agenda and bring about improvement in the country’s credit rating.

Drilon said the proposed measure once it gets Congress’ approval will contribute primarily to the advancement of health programs in the country.

The increase in the proceeds in cigarette and alcohol can be used to augment funds for programs and projects that promote health and wellness among Filipinos, said Drilon, noting that the reformed sin tax bill could generate as much as P30 billion in additional revenues yearly.

“We need this sin tax because we have to support the resources needed to push the government’s health agenda particularly the program that provides Philhealth insurance to the poorest Filipinos,” said Drilon.

He added that additional revenues can also be used to shore up key infrastructure projects for health sector such as the construction and repair of rural health centers and hospitals, more especially in the countryside.

“The government’s budget for respiratory diseases which basically is due to smoking is much higher and expensive than the amount of taxes we collect today for cigarettes. We have to close the gap by having reforms in our sin tax law,” he added.

Drilon said the passage of the bill will lead to improvement in the government’s credit rating which will result in better access to affordable financing and better loan terms to fund critical development programs and projects.

“It will mean an upgrading of our credit rating. It means we can have lower interest rates on our loan; therefore we will be able to use resources that will be freed from these lower interest rates,” stressed Drilon.

“It should be passed because this present structure is pegged to 1996 which is really not reflective of the real rates that we should have. I don’t know if we can pass it but we should,” ended Drilon.


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