There is no chance another increase in the tax on cigarettes will be approved in the Senate when Congress adjourns this week for the midterm elections, Senator Vicente Sotto III said Sunday
“No chance next week,” Sotto said as Congress only has two remaining days after Feb 5, which is Chinese New Year, a holiday.
“Best effort when we resume,” Sotto said.
Meanwhile, the opposition to another round of cigarette tax increase continued to mount as tobacco farmers, consumers, officials and business leaders cautioned the Senate on the grave consequences outweighing any gain from the increase.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines released a statement on Thursday that an estimated P20 billion worth of cigarettes were seized in 2018, and Federation of Philippine Industries Chairman Jesus Arranza said this was exactly proof his group does not support any more tax increases for tobacco.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, had scheduled for today, Monday, the continuation of the hearing on the proposed increase in cigarette taxes to generate funds for the implementation of the universal health care.
Senator JV Ejercito, chairman of the Senate health committee, had filed a bill for a 90-peso increase per pack of cigarette while Senator Manny Pacquiao vouched for a 60-peso increase, On the other hand, Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for a 70-peso increase.
Angara said the increase in the tax would be between P37.50 and P90.00.
Health advocates said they will reject “anything” below the 60-peso increase in the sin tax on cigarettes based on Pacquiao’s proposal, citing the Department of Finance ’s preliminary model.
That model showed that any rate below P73.30 would not produce a significant impact on the demand for tobacco products.
However, PhilHealth independent director Anthony Leachon considered “the sweet spot” the 70-peso rate proposed by Senator Win Gatchalian.