Members of House contingent to Bicam on Sin Tax Bill known today

THE House of Representatives will announce today the members of the  chamber’s contingent to the bicameral committee on the sin tax reform measure.

Rep. Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Chairman of the House
Committee on Ways and Means, said the list will be presented tomorrow during sessions.

“It will be presented in the plenary tomorrow,” said Ungab.

Prior to coming out with the House contingent list, he said the chamber had awaited the transmittal of the amended version of Senate Bill 3299 which was approved on third and final reading by senators last November 20.

The Senate contingent is headed by Sen. Franklin Drilon, the acting Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, and has as members Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Panfilo Lacson, Ralph Recto, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (for the majority), as well as Alan Cayetano and Pia Cayetano (for the minority).

Ungab earlier said he will be amenable to whatever is the best measure that Congress can pass which will truly address the health concerns of the youth, the women and the poorer sectors of society.

“The excise tax can be a good measure to control smoking and excessive
drinking,” he said.

Last June 6, the House passed House Bill 5727 authored by former Cavite Rep. and now DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya which seeks to raise a total incremental revenue of P31.35 billion during the first year of implementing the restructured excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. Of this amount, P26.87 billion shall come from cigarettes, P3.03 billion from fermented liquors and P1.45 billion from distilled spirits.

The bill provides an 8-percent increase in the excise tax rates every two years effective January 1, 2015 until January 1, 2025 for distilled spirits, wines, fermented liquors, tobacco products, cigars and cigarettes through revenue regulations issued by the Secretary of Finance; Removes the price/brand classification freeze on alcohol and tobacco products; Allocates the incremental revenues from the excise tax on tobacco products for the provinces producing burley and native tobacco, in accordance with the volume of tobacco leaf production, to promote economically viable alternative programs for tobacco farmers and workers; and provides additional funding for the universal health care program of the government.

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.

The amended SB 3299 meanwhile hopes to raise P39.5 billion during the
first year of implementation of higher excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products in 2013. Of this amount, P24 billion or 60 percent shall come from tobacco and P16 billion or 40 percent from alcohol products.

The Senate bill also provides for a unitary cigarette tax of P26 per pack by 2017. Rates for the current three tiers will be increased beginning next year, and the tiers themselves gradually cut starting 2015. It sets two tiers for fermented liquor and a single tier for distilled spirits, with rate increases to start next year.

It also provides earmarking of P23 billion in health insurance for families and P750 million for an anti-smoking campaign; Regional hospitals and medical centers will receive P100 million annually, and P10 million will be earmarked for each of the 618 district hospitals; and at least P2 billion yearly will be used for tax administration, while P750 million will be utilized for programs benefiting displaced tobacco farmers.

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