Sin tax increases being considered by Congress

·2 min read
Different brands of local cigarettes for sale are pictured along a sidewalk in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines May 9, 2017. A House of Representative panel is eyeing an increase in sin taxes. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Different brands of local cigarettes for sale are pictured along a sidewalk in Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines May 9, 2017. A House of Representative panel is eyeing an increase in sin taxes. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives is considering proposals for increases in sin taxes for sweetened drinks, alcohol, vapes, and cigarettes despite the Marcos Jr. administration’s disinclination for sin taxes.

“We will consider all proposals, and all counter-arguments, including illicit trade, jobs losses, inflationary impact, as well as what works in other countries, for higher taxes on sweetened beverages,” Albay 2nd District Rep, Joey Salceda said. “In principle, the committee believes in health taxes, especially to fund universal health care.”

“It might help reduce overall sugar demand and help us manage the supply deficit and reduce the need to import, It seems like there is space, especially since sugary drinks increased prices year-on-year by just 3.9 percent last August.” Salceda said.

For vapes in particular, Salceda mentioned that beyond the health department’s proposals, he already had bills that seek to impose higher taxes on vape products, saying that “global jurisprudence already acknowledges the harm in vaping.”

“It is now acknowledged in courts abroad that vaping has harms. So, there is an impetus to further discourage consumption there,” the lawmaker said.

Regarding the levy on sweetened beverages, Salceda is looking into the possibility of the increase in sin taxes having an “impact on obesity.”

It may also “reduce overall sugar demand” and “reduce the need to import” amid the country’s sugar crisis. He is also pursuing a ban on sweetened drinks in public and private grade schools.

Last month, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno mentioned to the Senate Ways and Means Committee as he presented the president's economic agenda that they will not be reviewing sin taxes on cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vapes, and alcoholic drinks.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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