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President certifies tobacco tax as urgent

09 Jan 2019. President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Health (DOH) to support a bill that would increase the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products; and certified the bill as urgent, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

Salvador Panelo, a presidential representative said President Duterte agreed to certify the Senate Bill No. 1599 as urgent during a cabinet meeting on 7 January 2018, according to the report.

The proposed bill would amend the country’s Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 by increasing the current unitary tax rate of PHP 30 per pack (EUR 0.49) to PHP 60 (EUR 1) per pack of cigarettes, and the annual tax of 4 per cent on tobacco and raise the price on alcohol to PHP 40 per litre.

Panelo was quoted as saying, “It’s also a revenue measure to finance items that need funds, like medical needs. Apart from this, it’s a health measure to dissuade people from excessive smoking.”

Saturnino Distor, the president of The Phil Tobacco Growers Association, spoke out against the bill saying, “Cigarette taxes have gone up seven times in the last five years. This has directly impacted our production and caused the displacement of a lot of farmers.”

Distor said that tobacco production decreased from 68 million kilos in 2013 to 48 million in 2017, according to the report.