Raising tax on tobacco will help fund universal health care — Pacquiao
MANILA, Philippines — In anticipation of the signing of the Universal Health Care (UHC) which would need immediate funding, Senator Manny Pacquiao renewed his call for the passage of a bill which seeks to raise the excise tax on tobacco products.
Senate Bill 1599, filed by Pacquiao, seeks to raise the cigarette excise tax to P60 per pack.
“My proposal will help decrease the total number of smokers in the country by one million before the end of President’s term,” the senator said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This goes to show that when the number of smokers in the country declines, the number of people getting sick because of cigarette smoking would therefore decrease,” he added.
Last Monday, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the UHC bill that would make healthcare available to all Filipinos.
The reconciled version of the measure was approved by the congressional bicameral conference committee last November 27.
Once ratified by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the bill will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
Pacquiao said that the passage of the UHC “provides for an equally important reason why additional revenues are needed from tobacco tax.”
“UHC is a huge reform that would bring in significant benefits to all Filipinos, particularly the poor, but the government would be needing sustained funding resources to ensure that these promises are realized,” he further said.
“Its (Senate Bill 1599) passage would fulfill the financing requirements of UHC,” he added.
The senator also noted that raising the excise tax rates on tobacco products “will help safeguard the health of the Filipinos.”
“This would provide a big relief especially to marginalized Filipino families. By discouraging them from buying higher-priced cigarettes, they would opt to focus on accounting for their basic necessities of their family, such as food,” he said.
“In the end, this would also lessen the chance of them acquiring tobacco-related diseases, that would result in health care costs causing burden to the family,” he added. /je
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