Health groups see rise in number of smokers next year if proposed tax increase on cigarettes fail

admin   •   November 20, 2017   •   5524

MANILA, Philippines — Studies conducted by several health groups reveal the Philippines has the cheapest prices of cigarettes in the world.

If to be compared with other countries, a pack of cigarette in the Philippines cost not more than a dollar and can be bought easily.

“In the Philippines, it’s less than a dollar or a dollar 50 pesos. In other countries, Singapore it’s nine dollars, Australia, it’s 15 dollars but people are still smoking. But we protect the poor and the very young who are the ones who cannot afford higher tobacco taxes,” said Department of Health (DOH) former Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial.

With this, a number of health groups and doctors have expressed concern over the possible rise in the number of Filipino smokers in the country.

They estimated that 200,000 more Filipinos will add to the current number of smokers by 2018.

And within six years, the health experts said it may further rise to a million if the government fails to approve the proposed imposition of more taxes on tobacco products.

Senator Manny Pacquiao’s Senate Bill 1599 or the act raising the excise tax on tobacco products aims to increase the prices of each pack of cigarettes to 60 pesos, while Senator JV Ejercito seeks an increase of 90 pesos per cigarette pack.

The group Action on Smoking Health (ASH) is in favor of the said proposals.

ASH said higher prices of cigarettes may help Filipinos to stop smoking, especially the youth.

“It should be single tax rate. They should apply a single tax rate for all. When the prices of cigarettes are cheap or expensive, the effect is the same. You will get ill or die because of cigarettes,” said Ash Executive Director Dr. Maricar Limpin.

A group of doctors and the former secretary of the Department of Health is also in favor of increasing the tax rates for tobacco products especially since it will help improve the revenue collection of the government.

The health experts said that the government might allocate the additional amount it can collect from the tobacco excise tax to the universal health care program for Filipinos.

“In 2012, they stopped 3 million people from beginning smoking just by signing a bill. They prevented 30, 000 deaths in that span. something the entire medical profession cannot do and so the power of this bill is really very important and we need to realize that enable to push for it hard. The higher the tax, the more lives we save,” said Sin Tax Coalition convenor Dr. Antonio Dans.

The proposed laws seeking to increase the tax rates on tobacco products filed by senators Manny Pacquiao and JV Ejercito are still pending in the Senate.

The senators are hoping that the said proposals will advance in Congress at the soonest possible time. — Aiko Miguel | UNTV News & Rescue

 

 

DOE warns suspension of oil excise tax if global price hike continues

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The government may suspend the implementation of excise tax in oil products if global prices continue to soar in the coming months as a result of the recent drone attacks on two large oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), they cannot tell yet as to how much the price hike may be because it will depend on the trading price in the world market.

Nevertheless, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi assured that local oil companies have enough supply of oil which can last up to 30 days.

In the event that oil prices soar, excise tax in oil may be suspended as provisioned in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law 1.

“Meron tayo dyan na safety net na sinasabi na kapag yung presyo ng langis in the world market, yung pag-aangkat natin breaches the 80 dollar per barrel in 3 consecutive months, we might intend to suspend excise tax,” Cusi explained.

But the official noted that as of now, there is a slim chance for the price hike, especially so that Saudi Aramco has announced to resume its normal operation in September.

Meanwhile, the DOE is also preparing for the possible adverse effect of the oil price hike to the impeding maintenance shutdown of Malampaya Power Plant next month.

Once the Malampaya is shut down, power distributors will have to buy electricity from oil-powered plants which may still lead to a power rate increase.

“Iyan pinag-aralan na natin iyan. Number 1, we want to make sure that there will be no power interruption because of the maintenance. Number two, that there will be no spike in price because of the maintenance,” Cusi said.

“Kaya lang syempre itong misbehavior ng price in the world market, talagang pagsipa noon mapi-feel natin,” he added.

Aside from diesel power plants, coal and hydropower plants are among the alternative power sources that the government is eyeing. – MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

Pacquiao advises Faeldon to take leave as BuCor chief

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 4, 2019

Senator Manny Pacquiao (left) and BuCor Chief Nicanor Faeldon (right)

Senator Manny Pacquiao has advised Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Nicanor Faeldon to take a leave-of-absence while facing investigation.

In a statement, Pacquiao said he believes in the integrity and honesty of Faeldon but the investigation on the alleged abuse of the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law needs Faeldon’s “full and undivided attention.”

“I know that Undersecretary Faeldon is a good man and has served his country well but I really think that he can spare the president and this administration from embarrassment by taking a leave-of-absence,” he said.

READ: Faeldon admits signing ‘memorandum’ not release order for Antonio Sanchez

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will continue the investigation on Thursday (September 5) on the said issue.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said Faeldon’s fate lies in President Rodrigo Duterte’s hands.

“That’s for the president to decide. I talked with him yesterday, and that’s what he told me: ‘There is an ongoing investigation and I’ll wait for the investigation,’” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Faeldon had previously said he will not resign as BuCor chief amid the controversy.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

House OKs tax hike on alcohol, vape products on third reading

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill which seeks to increase taxes on alcohol and vape products.

Based on House Bill No. 1026 “distilled spirits shall have an excise tax of 22% of the retail price, as well as an additional specific tax of P35 per proof liter in 2020, P40 in 2021 and P45 in 2022. The specific tax shall be increased by seven percent every year afterwards.”

The Committee on Ways and Means chairman Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda assures the excise tax on tobacco products, as stated in the bill, is only for vape products.

“So if you are so afraid of the tobacco taxes, there are no new tobacco taxes (in the bill) except for vape which is not a tobacco product. It is essentially a vape, non-combustion,” he said.

Salcedo added that vape products will have an increase of P30 in excise tax from the current P10.

The bill states that selling heated tobacco products and vapor products at prices lower than the combined excise and value-added tax rates required by the law shall be prohibited.

There will also be a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee which will be referred to as the Oversight Committee on Illicit Trade on Excisable Products.

The said committee will (a) evaluate the programs and performance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in addressing illicit trade on excisable products and recommend remedial legislation; (b) require concerned agencies to submit reports and data that can aid in resolving illicit trade of excisable products; (c) hold public hearings; and (d) deputize the BIR, the BOC, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation and other enforcement government agencies as may be needed, among others.

Meanwhile, DOF Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua told reporters last Thursday (Aug 15) that they are not satisfied with the House version of the bill.

“We are not satisfied with the House version, but it’s a starting point. We hope to convince senators to go for higher rates for the universal health care program,” he said.—AAC

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