By PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Malacañang said that the passage of the sin tax reform bill would not only provide the government more funds to take care of the public’s health but will also level the playing field that could increase the income of the local tobacco farmers.
In a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made it clear that the passage of this measure also provides safety nets for the farmers to ensure a better income for them.
“We regard the sin tax reform bill as a health issue. Like we said smoking contributes, costs the economy around 177 billion pesos. Doon po meron tayong safety nets po para sa mga farmers and in fact, if you open it up, if you level the playing field sa tobacco industry, the tobacco farmers will themselves profit from that kasi tataas ang presyo ng cigarette prices,” Lacierda said.
He further said that the concerned government agencies, which include the Department of Finance led by Secretary Cesar Purisima, have discussed and explained the proposed bill in the Lower House, adding that the same will be presented in the Senate.
“So magkakaroon ng mas malaking income po para sa ating mga tobacco farmers. But, first and foremost, we regard this as a health issue and I hope the Senate will also recognize the cost to the economy. May safety nets po tayo sa mga tobacco farmers, and I think that was already explained in the House -25 percent will be part of the safety net,” Lacierda noted.
It will be recalled that in the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Chief Executive explained that the government will be using the revenues from the sin tax reform bill for universal health care. Sin tax reform will be raising the taxes on cigarettes and liquor.
The sin tax reform bill is one of the Aquino administration’s priority measures, which has been certified as urgent.
The Lower House has already approved the bill thereby setting a two-tier system for tobacco products and three-tier system for alcohol products, depending on the net retail price. However, the Senate has yet to pass its counterpart measure.