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

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 21, 2019   •   550

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

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)

House confident of passing 2020 budget bill on Oct. 4

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives remains confident it will be able to pass the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for the year 2020 on the targeted date of October 4.

The House plenary has been able to follow its schedule and completed deliberations on the proposed budgets of 39 government departments last week.

Among the government agencies with approved budgets were the Department of Finance, National Economic Development Authority and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

It also approved the 2020 budgets of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Optical Media Board, Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority, Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Credit Information Corporation.

Also approved were the proposed budgets for next year of the Judiciary, Ombudsman, Philippine Center for Economic Development, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, Civil Service Commission, Department of Trade and Industry, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan; Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the Department of Justice.

The House also terminated deliberations on the appropriations for the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Racing Commission, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine Competition Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Department of Foreign Affairs.

The number of agencies with approved budget proposals represents 54 percent of the total 72 government offices under House Bill 4228 or the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) scheduled for plenary debates that is seen to be concluded on Friday, Sept. 20. 

“At the rate we’re going, the House is on track to finish the 2020 budget before the recess on Oct. 4,” Senior Deputy Majority Floor Leader and Cavite Representative Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

House leaders have earlier said they stick to the original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on the first week of October.

This is to avoid the scenario of another reenacted budget like what happened last year.

Apart from budget deliberations, the lower chamber also touted the passing of four priority measures at a record time, including the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA).

Remulla credited this to regular meetings of House members to thresh out concerns and ensure that floor discussions were mainly about the policy and expenditure programs of concerned agencies.

House plenary debates on 2020 budget bill to start on Sept. 10

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2019

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives is set to begin this week the plenary debates on the proposed 2020 national budget.

House Committee on Appropriations chairman Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab said the sponsorships and floor deliberations for the budget bill are scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 10 and are expected to last until Sept. 20.

Ungab said the lower chamber plans to stick to its original target date to pass the proposed national budget before Congress goes on recess on October 4.

The House appropriations panel earlier reported it has completed in record time the hearings on the 2020 budget proposals of all government agencies.

Previous House schedules showed that the annual budget hearings usually ended on the fourth week of September.

Ungab credited House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for helping the committee ensure the timely passage of the budget bill.

During the submission of the National Expenditure Program for Fiscal Year 2020 to Speaker Cayetano, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Chairman Ungab, and other House leaders, the Speaker assured the House will make adjustments in its plenary schedule to afford more time for the scrutiny and deliberations on the proposed P4.1-trillion proposed national budget for 2020.

“Under the effective guidance and leadership of Speaker Cayetano, everyone moved in accordance to his given task, and supported and coordinated with the leadership of the Committee on Appropriations which resulted in the early completion of the budget committee hearings last Friday, September 6. For that, I thank the Vice-Chairmen and members of the Committee on Appropriations for their hard work and sense of responsibility,” Ungab said in a news release.

He also thanked other lawmakers who helped in the study and review of the budget proposals to determine the necessity of their programs and projects.

Following the termination of the 2020 budget hearings, Ungab said the Committee on Appropriations is set to approve on Monday, September 9, the Committee Report on House Bill 4228 which seeks to appropriate funds for the operation of the government of the Republic of the Philippines from January 1 to December 31, 2020.

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