Groups slam lower excise tax for alcoholic beverages
Health advocates slammed the approval by a House committee of a “minimal increase” in alcohol tax, which they said would not help address the adverse effects of alcohol consumption and will deprive the government of crucial funding for a pending universal health care bill in Congress.
According to Dr. Maricar Limpin, the public health head of the Philippine College of Physicians, the new rates approved by the House ways and means committee “pale significantly” in comparison to that proposed by Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing.
Suansing’s proposal, said Limpin, could have prevented Filipinos from being further exposed to the ill health and social effects of alcohol consumption.
“Scientific evidence shows that alcohol consumption at any levels increases risk to cancers, especially cancers of the gut,” Limpin said.
“More than revenue, we are looking at alcohol tax as a health measure,” Limpin said.
Under the bill that was endorsed to the House plenary on Wednesday, excise on fermented liquors, such as beer, was raised by just P2.6 from the current P25.4.
Suansing proposed that tax for this particular product should be raised to P40 in 2019 and to P55 by 2022.
The House panel also junked the two-tiered system adopted by the Sin Tax Reform Act for sparkling wines in favor of a unitary rate of P650.
Previously, the rate was P335 for products below P500, and P937 for those above P500.
The nongovernment organization Action for Economic Reforms (AER) expressed disappointment that, rather than ensuring that government would have enough funds for health programs from the excise on alcohol, the House panel opted to just collect from the industry around P7.8 billion.
“Suansing’s bill was expected to generate around P43 billion in incremental revenue,” said Jo-Ann Diosana, AER policy head.
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