Netizens react to proposed tax on sugary drinks
Netizens react to proposed tax on sugary drinks
Majority of respondents feel the additional tax will be a burden for consumers

MANILA, Philippines – The administration’s tax reform package includes House Bill 292 or the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax, a proposal to impose higher taxes on sugary drinks.

If it gets passed into law, beverages such as 3-in-1 coffee, energy drinks, sports drinks, and powdered juices among others will now have additional tax of up to P20 per liter (READ: How tax reform hits your favorite drinks)

The SSB tax is among a set of excise taxes being proposed to offset the government’s revenue loss from lowered income tax. The Department of Finance estimates a revenue of P47 billion from the collection of this tax.

But critics say this is a bittersweet gain. The SSB tax has been slammed by sari-sari store groups and consumers for being “anti-poor.”

According to a study from AC Nielsen Retail Survey, 80 percent of beverage consumers are low-income earners who will not benefit from the revised income tax scheme. About 1.3 million sari-sari store owners will also be affected, as 40% of their sales come from these beverages.

How do netizens feel about this? Last weekend, Rappler published a poll on Facebook and Twitter to ask “Do you think the country needs an additional tax of up to P20 on sweetened drinks as part of the government’s tax reform program?” Majority of respondents said No.

 In a separate series of social posts about the tax, netizens also weighed in on both sides of the issue. Most felt that the move will indeed affect the poor who consider the products as staple drinks.

Others acknowledged that while the proposal may have long-term benefits, its current parameters need to be reviewed further.

In her sponsorship speech for the SSB tax, Nueva Ecija 1st District Representative Estrelita Suansing said that the proposal can also help “promote the intake of healthier beverage products.” She highlighted that state initiatives to curb sugar consumption can help arrest the upward trend in the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases among Filipinos.

However, studies show that there are several factors that may contribute to these conditions, and cannot be attributed to one particular product. In the Philippines, based on the Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) published National Nutrition Survey, more than 40% of the average Filipino’s calorie intake actually comes from rice and fatty food. The study also shows that there is actually a decline in consumption of sugar and syrup among Filipinos. FNRI data also revealed that 7 out of 10 Filipino households are not able to meet the daily recommended caloric intake, while over 28 million Filipinos are undernourished

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What do you think? Do think that the SSB tax should be included in the government’s tax reform package? Weigh in on your thoughts below. –

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