Bicam on sin tax reform bill to first tackle non-contentious issues

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THE chairmen of the House and Senate panels to the bicameral committee on the sin tax reform bill have agreed to leave discussions of the contentious issues of House Bill 5727 and Senate Bill 3299 on the second day of their meeting.

Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), House Contingent Head and Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said he and Sen. Franklin Drilon, the Senate panel head, have agreed to devote the first day of the bicameral meeting tomorrow to the non-contentious issues of the two measures.

“The general principle is to first take up the non-contentious matters so on the first day, we can breeze through the things we can agree,” said Ungab.

Expected to be discussed today are the general provisions of HB 5727 and SB 3299 and other provisions that are without conflict.

The next day will be devoted to discussions of contentious matters such as pricing, tiers, rates and indexation according to him.

Ungab said the House panel is prepared to defend its version. The panel members held an informal meeting earlier today with Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and finance officials for some data concerning the two sin tax bills.

He expressed optimism the House and Senate panels will be able to resolve all the contentious issues and finally come up with a single sin tax reform measure.

“I have high hopes that ultimately, we’ll be able to come up with an honest-to-goodness, genuine sin tax reform measure before the end of the year.”

Rep. Arnulfo Fuentebella (4th District, Camarines Sur) said the House panel will first protect HB 5727 then it will ask the Senate to justify how the chamber came up with its amendments. “Taxation is basically an exclusive collegial power of the House of Representatives,” said Fuentebella.

Rep. Luis Villafuerte (3rd District, Camarines Sur) said the bicameral members should indicate the principles of the sin tax reform measures they can agree upon. “Having agreed on the principles that govern the law, we can work out all the arithmetic to achieve all those principles.”

The other members of the House panel aside from Ungab, Villafuerte and Fuentebella are Reps. Neptali Gonzales II (Lone District, Mandaluyong City), the Majority Floor Leader, Janette Garin (1st District, Iloilo), Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District, Negros Oriental), Henedina Abad (Lone District, Batanes), Eric Singson, Jr. (2nd District, Ilocos Sur) and Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon), the Minority Leader.

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