Senate OKs tobacco tax hike on 3rd and final reading
MANILA, Philippines — With 20 affirmative votes and no negative votes, the Senate on Friday approved on third and final reading a measure that aims to raise the excise tax on tobacco products.
The Senate Bill No. 2233 proposes a staggered increase in the excise tax per cigarette pack from 2020 to 2023.
The measure recommends to increase excise tax on cigarettes to P45 per pack in 2020, P50 in 2021, P55 in 2021, and P60 in 2023, with five percent annual increases thereafter.
It also seeks stiffer penalties for the illicit tobacco trade, to earmark incremental tobacco excise tax for programs aimed at fighting smuggling and other illicit trade, and to set up human resource development programs for health professionals.
The Senate accepted amendments to impose taxes on heated tobacco and vapor products, otherwise known as electronic cigarettes, and to earmark revenues collected. Such products will be taxed P10 every 10 milliliters (ML).
Senator Sonny Angara, who is the sponsor of the bill, earlier said the measure aims to reduce smoking prevalence among Filipinos as well as raise funding for the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program.
After the approval of the bill, the Senate will transmit their version to the House of Representatives for review.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the lower House has committed to adopting the Senate version, allowing the 17th Congress to forego a bicameral conference committee.
Once both chambers of Congress approve the measure, the enrolled bill will be transmitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.
The President earlier certified SB 2233 as an urgent measure.
He said in a letter to Senate President Sotto III that there is an “urgent need to further protect the health of the people and to maintain a broader fiscal space to support the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.” (Editor: Eden Estopace)
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