MILK and 3-in-1 coffee are excluded from the proposed excise tax on sweetened beverages under the version that the Senate panel reported out last week, Senator Sonny Angara said Sunday.
Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee, said his committee had found it unjustifiable to tax milk―given its nutritional value―in the same way as soft drinks and other unhealthy sweetened beverages.
Senate Bill 1592 excludes from the proposed tax plain milk, infant formula milk, growing-up milk, powdered, ready-to- drink, flavored and fermented milk with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100 ml package.
Data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute says chronic malnutrition among Filipino children under five years old has increased to 33.5 percent in 2015 from 30.5 percent in 2013.
To address the problem, the Senate version of the tax bill allocated the incremental revenues from sweetened beverage tax to finance the expansion of school-based and community-based feeding programs for children and adults in areas with high hunger incidence, as well as the provision of water fountains in all public schools in the country.
Angara said it was alarming that one in three Filipino children was suffering from intense malnutrition, which having a negative effect on their growth and development.
He cited the need to expand the government’s feeding programs so tha more people would be given more nutritious food.
SB 1592 likewise excludes 3-in-1 coffee from the proposed excise tax.
Based on the 2013 Food Consumption Survey of the FNRI, coffee is the seventh most consumed food item of Filipinos. A Kantar survey also showed that 90 percent of the consumers of 3-in-1 coffee were low-income earners.
“This is used to awaken ordinary workers so they can be more energetic to work,” Angara said.
Under the earmarking provision, the revenues from the sweetened beverage tax would also go to health programs to address obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, and to the provision of dialysis wards or units in all national, regional and provincial government hospitals.