House leader ready for bicameral meetings on sin tax reform bill

THE chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means expressed readiness for the forthcoming bicameral conference meetings on the sin tax reform bill which the Senate could put to plenary vote this week.

“I will be amenable to whatever is the best measure that Congress can pass that will truly address the health concerns of the youth, the women and the poor sectors of our society. The excise tax on
cigarettes can be a good measure to control smoking and excessive drinking,” said Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City).

Once the Senate passes its version of the sin tax reform bill, a bicameral body will be formed to reconcile the conflicting provisions of House Bill 5727 and the substitute bill to Senate Bill 3299.

Ungab said Senator Franklin Drilon’s proposal aiming for a P40 billion to P45 billion additional excise tax revenue collection on the proposed sin tax reform bill’s first year of implementation, which is higher than the House target of P31.3 billion,  is workable.

“It’s acceptable since this is in line with the health and revenue objectives of the government,” he said.

Sen. Ralph Recto, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, previously presented to the floor his own version of the sin tax measure that would raise P15 billion to P20 billion in incremental revenue for the first year of the law’s implementation.

Ungab expressed belief that with the expected plenary voting of the Senate this week, the chamber can pass the sin tax measure by December this year.

“The Senate can pass the sin tax bill by the end of the year. The senators are well aware that we have a deadline to meet in March 2013, the date the World Trade Organization set for us to act on its ruling which requires the Philippine government to make corrective measures as to the excise taxes on distilled spirits which the WTO ruled as discriminatory against imported products,” said Ungab.

The WTO dispute settlement body’s ruling requires the country to amend the Excise Tax Law on Distilled Spirits, as provided in Section 141 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended, on or before March 2013.

Last June 6, the House approved the amended HB 5727 authored by former Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya that would provide a total incremental revenue of P31.35 billion of which P26.87 billion will
come from cigarettes, P3.03 billion from fermented liquors and P1.45 billion from distilled spirits.

Ungab said the sin tax reform bill will: level the playing field by encouraging fair competition among all stakeholders in the alcohol and tobacco industry; increase the revenue base of the government; and address the increasing social costs of alcohol and tobacco consumption.


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