Sin tax bicam approves P243-B revenue target up to 2017

AFTER agreeing on the 70-30 burden sharing, the bicameral conference committee has approved the P243 billion incremental revenue target up to 2017 on sin tax bill as opposed by two members of the Senate panel.

In an interview during the break at the Andaya Hall of the House of Representatives, Senators Ralph Recto and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., opposed the new target revenues on the belief the government cannot collect it.

“There will be a 100 percent increase every year up to 2017. but with the projected revenue, there is no way that can collect that in five years, and  at the end of the day, many people will gonna lose their jobs in the tobacco industry,” Recto said, who earlier expressed disappointment along with Marcos over “these new developments” incurred in the bicameral conference meeting.

The panel has earlier agreed to hike tax rates on alcohol and tobacco products every two years

Present during the deliberations were Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares and Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul Jr.

Marcos, on the other hand, said that the House panel literary kill the tobacco industry by reducing the tax burden from alcohol, but add the deducted sum to tobacco.

“Sinabi na ng House panel, talagang yayariin nila ang tobacco,  ang ginawa babawasan nang babawasan ang total,  pero lahat ng bawas doon lamang sa alcohol, pero ang kulang, ikakarga nila sa tabako,” Marcos lamented.

Marcos said that the House panel is fighting for the new burden sharing in order to curb smoking among the youth and the poor as pushed by the Department of Health (DOH) but “they are encouraging drinking.”

“Bale ang nangyayari, binababaan nila ang alcohol, tinataasan nila ang tabako dahil sa health concerns daw. Di ba sinasabi naman ng lahat ng sin products is bad for the health. Eh bakit sa tabako lang ang tinataasan at pinababa ang alcohol,” Marcos explained.

“Essentially, we are discouraging the use of tobacco because it is bad to your health,  but they discouraging (the use of) tobacco, but they are encouraging alcohol.  Hindi maliwanag, and not consistent kaya hindi kami puwedeng sisisihin sa sinasabi namin na tinatarget (talaga nila) ang tobacco industry,” Marcos added.

Marcos said the opposition on the new scheme from the House panel is Ilocos Norte Rep. Eric Singson, Jr., who came from Ilocos Sur, a tobacco producing province.

Cayetano supports bigger burden for tobacco

For his part, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he will fight for the Senate version but admitted tobacco should get the bigger burden because only 30 percent of the country’s produce will affected as 70 percent are for export.

“It is natural that the Senate will fight for its version and the House for their version. But we are reiterating that this is both a revenue and health bill. So, there would be different treatment for tobacco against alcohol because for both, we want bigger revenues.  But for alcohol, you want less people smoking,” Cayetano said.

He said they have parameters of the burden sharing on revenues under two aspects, revenue and health, so the panel is considering the prices of cigarette in our Asian neighbours because the country has the cheapest tobacco products in the region.

“My position is to have less people that smoke the better but how do you that without killing the industry although 70 percent of our tobacco farmers exports, while 30 percent only consumes here, so we are discussing other provision to save the industry,” Cayetano said.

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