Higher ex­cise tax on al­co­hol, to­bacco seen to en­cour­age right spend­ing among work­ers

Sun Star Bacolod - - Business - BY ERWIN P. NICAVERA

A LOCAL la­bor leader said in­creas­ing the ex­cise tax on al­co­hol and to­bacco prod­ucts, also called sin taxes, will en­cour­age right spend­ing of in­come among work­ers.

Wen­nie San­cho, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Gen­eral Al­liance of Work­ers As­so­ci­a­tions (Gawa), yes­ter­day said the move would re- duce vices and pro­mote a healthy life­style among work­ers.

San­cho said for the work­ers, in­stead of spend­ing the in­come for cig­a­rettes and al­co­hol, they should have more sav­ings for their fam­ily es­pe­cially in these “dif­fi­cult and try­ing” times.

“We sup­port this move as al­co­hol and to­bacco prod­ucts could re­duce the in­come of the work­ers,” he said, ad­ding that non­spend­ing for these “un­nec­es­sary” goods also re­duces the clamor of work­ers on lack of in­come.

On Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has ap­proved the pro­posal of the Depart­ment of Health (DOH) and Depart­ment of Fi­nance (DOF) to raise the ex­cise tax on al­co­hol and to­bacco prod­ucts to fund the gov­ern­ment’s Uni­ver­sal Health Care (UHC) Pro­gram.

Health Sec­re­tary Fran­cisco Duque ear­lier said the UHC Pro­gram would need a to­tal fund­ing re­quire­ment of P257 bil­lion for the first year of its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

For Fi­nance Sec­re­tary Carlos Dominguez III, the in­crease in the cur­rent to­bacco ex­cise tax rates to lev­els that would ef­fec­tively curb smok­ing.

In De­cem­ber last year, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ap­proved on third and fi­nal read­ing House Bill (8677) on to­bacco ex­cise taxes and HB 8618 on al­co­hol taxes.

HB 8677 seeks to in­crease the tax on ev­ery ci­garette pack from the cur­rent P32.50 to P37.50 in July 2019. It would go up fur­ther by P2.50 per pack ev­ery year from 2020 to 2022, and by an­other four per­cent an­nu­ally in the suc­ceed­ing years.

HB 8618, on the other hand, aims to raise the tax on beer and other fer­mented liquors from the cur­rent P23.50 per liter to P28 per liter start­ing in Jan­uary, to P32 in 2020, P34 in 2021, and P36 in 2022.

HB 8677 is pro­jected to gen­er­ate P1.8 bil­lion in ad­di­tional rev­enues this year, while HB 8618 is es­ti­mated to raise rev­enue by P7.9 bil­lion.

The Se­nate and the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives rat­i­fied also in De­cem­ber last year the uni­ver­sal health care bill, which aims to cover all Filipinos with health in­sur­ance while up­grad­ing the gov­ern­ment’s med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties.

For the local la­bor group, the mea­sure will fur­ther en­cour­age con­sumers in­clud­ing work­ers to spend money wisely.

San­cho said a huge por­tion of the in­come of some work­ers go to vices, or un­nec­es­sary spend­ing like al­co­hol and to­bacco prod­ucts.

Thus, with higher sin taxes, San­cho said they are op­ti­mistic that work­ers will pri­or­i­tize the ba­sic needs of their fam­i­lies.

He also urged as­sur­ance from the gov­ern­ment that the rev­enues from higher ex­cise tax on these prod­ucts will re­ally be spent for its in­tended pur­pose

ERWIN NICAVERA

FOR local la­bor group, the ad­di­tional ex­cise tax on al­co­hol and to­bacco prod­ucts will en­cour­age right spend­ing among work­ers.

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