11 senators, so far, sign panel report on tobacco tax hike
MANILA, Philippines – Eleven senators have so far signed a committee report, raising the tobacco tax from the present P35 per pack to up to P60 per back by 2023.
The number of signatories is more than the majority of the members of the Senate committee on ways and means needed to bring the report for plenary discussion.
The 11 signatories are Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the committee, and Senators JV Ejercito, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda , Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
Three of the signatories are part of the opposition bloc in the Senate.
The measure, approved by the committee, seeks to raise the tax on tobacco products from P35 to P45 per pack in 2020 and to P50 per pack in 2021.
In 2022, the tax on tobacco would be raised further to P55 per pack, and to P60 per pack in 2023.
The tax rates, according to the committee report, would likewise be increased by 5 percent every year starting January 1, 2024.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III is hopeful that Congress could pass the measure before it adjourns sine die on June 7.
“Again, we hope that this last five session days this bill can be passed because we need funds for the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Program,” Dominguez said in an interview at the Senate on Monday.
He said the estimated amount needed to fund the UHC for the next five years is P1.4 trillion.
Currently, he said the government has only P1 trillion for the UHC.
“The amount we have right now is only P1 trillion so we’re going to be short P400B, roughly P400B for the Universal Healthcare,” Dominguez pointed out. (Editor: Gilbert S. Gaviola)
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