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House, Senate OK sin tax bill



04:53 AM December 11th, 2012


Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile huddles with other senators and clarifies a point with BIR Secretary Kim Henares during a short break in the hearing of the repackaged sin tax bill in the Senate last Nov. 7, 2012. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The two chambers of Congress will ratify the reconciled version of the sin tax bill today after yesterday’s face-off between senators and representatives that centered on whether they would make good on their promise to dedicate the incremental revenue from tobacco and alcohol products to health-related government expenditures.

Sen. Franklin Drilon made the announcement after stepping out of the grueling four-hour  meeting between senators and representatives tasked to thresh out the differences between their respective versions of the measure.

Drilon, acting chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said the reconciled version adhered more closely to the upper chamber’s version.

For 2013, the sin tax measure is expected to raise an additional P33.96 billion on top of present collections from tobacco and alcohol products.

Drilon said P23.4 billion of this amount was expected from the tobacco sector while the rest would come from revenues from alcohol products.

“The tobacco revenues are actually lower than the Senate-approved target of P23.55 billion,” he noted, recognizing some colleagues’ objection to what they believe is a skewed burden-sharing between tobacco and alcohol.

Senators approved the sin tax bill on third and final reading after agreeing on a 60:40 burden-sharing ratio between tobacco and alcohol taxes.

The reconciled version, however, contains a 69:31 ratio between the two products. In subsequent years, tobacco’s burden share would taper slowly to 64 percent in 2017, Drilon said.

During the Senate debates, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Ralph Recto voiced concerns over the apparent favor given to alcohol producers since their burden share is significantly smaller.

Drilon said that Marcos, in particular, held back when he noted that the reconciled sin tax version would take note of the law that requires that 15 percent of all incremental revenues from sin products would go to support workers in the tobacco industry.

Meanwhile, representatives rejected an amendment introduced by Recto requiring specific uniform amounts for the repair and rehabilitation of hospitals.

Drilon said the representatives described the proposal as unrealistic since the financial needs of different hospitals would also vary.

The Philtobacco Growers Association (PTGA) said it would campaign against all reelectionist senators who voted in favor of the sin tax bill.

PTGA president Saturnino Distor said that aside from street rallies, his group would soon launch an Internet campaign (http://www.senator1000.com/) to ensure that “anti-farmer, anti-labor” reelectionist senators would not get votes from tobacco-producing provinces and other areas affected by higher sin taxes nationwide.

The bicameral conference committee is made up of Senators Drilon, Recto, Marcos, Panfilo Lacson, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Sergio Osmena III, and the contingent from the House of Representatives: Davao City Representative Isidro Ungab, House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II, House minority leader Danilo Suarez, Iloilo Representative Janette Garin, Batanes Representative Henedina Abad, Camarines Sur (third district) Representative Luis Villafuerte, Camarines Sur (fourth district) Representative Arnulfo Fuentebella, Negros Oriental Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong and Ilocos Sur Representative Eric Singson Jr.

Also present during the deliberations were Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul Jr. and Health Undersecretary Eric Tayag.

 Originally posted: 3:22 pm | Monday, December 10th, 2012

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