Barangay Health Workers party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co is batting for a two-tier tax on low sodium and high sodium food and drinks to bring down high health-care costs from too much consumption of salty food.
She, however, said dried fish or the Filipinos’ well-loved “tuyo” and even dried meat must be tax-exempt and must be under the regulation of the local government unit.
She urged the Department of Finance to come up with better tax administration and an incentivized combination of non-tax and tax to encourage producers of processed foods to shift to low sodium products.
She said the revenues to be generated should be an additional funding for the implementation of the Universal Health-Care Act.
“It has been a long time since sweetened products have been taxed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law that took effect in January 2018. That has been over four years ago. With the tax on sweetened products, which helps fund our country’s health programs, not only are there more funds for health now, but new products that are natural juices or with no-sugar added have flooded the consumer market. Consumers have been choosing low sugar over high sugar,” she said.
“I am confident of the same kind of effects when we have this tax on sodium in foods and drinks. However, for foods, like dried fish and dried meats, the solution is not taxation but authorizing local government units to give incentives to the makers of dried fish and dried meats to make their products less salty. Part of the solution is mandating the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Health and Department of Agriculture to jointly develop food standards on salt content of dried fish and dried meats,” the party-list lawmaker added.
She fears that there could an increase in the incidence of cardiovascular ailment and kidney disorder due to high sodium food intake.
“We must address this public health crisis causing many deaths every year,” she stressed.
“I am open to filing and pushing for a bill that fosters gradual increase in low sodium foods in the market with a matching two-tier taxation for low sodium and high sodium with the lower tax on the low in sodium. I will trust the health experts and scientists to recommend to Congress the limits of low salt, high salt and number of servings in each product item.