DOF: Tobacco tax hike to boost Universal Health Care funding
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance will “try its best” to convince Congress to pass higher tobacco tax rates in order to discourage the public from smoking.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that raising the tax rates on tobaccos would not only help lower the number of smokers but also generate funds for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.
“There’s still the Senate. We will try our best. This thing doesn’t end until the President signs it. We’re there. We’re keeping at it. We hope that they will come up to what is good for the country,” Dominguez said in a press briefing on Tuesday
Dominguez was reacting to the recent passing on third and final reading by the House of Representatives of HB 8677 that seeks to increase the taxes on tobacco products.
From the original excise tax of P30 in 2017, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law raised the excise tax on tobacco to P32.50 last January 1, 2018, and P35 on July 1, 2018. It is set to go up to P37.50 on January 1, 2019, and P40 on January 1, 2020. It will increase annually by 4 percent from January 1, 2024 onwards.
In the proposed hike approved by the House, the panel agreed to make the unitary excise tax on cigarettes P35 per pack by January 1, 2019, and P37.50 by July 2019, P40 by July 2020, P42.5 by 2021, and P45 by 2022. This will be followed by a 4 percent increase annually every July after that.
Citing testimonies, Dominguez said that the implementation of the Sin Tax Reform Law led to roughly one million people quitting cigarettes annually.
“Society has to agree what is more important: enough money for healthcare or favoring companies that produce products that damage health? That’s what society has to agree on, and that’s what the representatives in the legislature are supposed to reflect,” Dominguez said.
“Are we going to favor a few for the benefit of many? Again, it’s up to the Legislature. We will continue our position, try to show the results why it is beneficial to have higher taxes,” he added. /cbb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.