Aquino won't settle for P15-B sin tax revenues

MANILA, Philippines - Although "reasonably confident" the sin tax bill will be passed, President Benigno Aquino III said he will be "very disappointed" if the estimated additional revenues from the measure fall below the target under the House version.

"I will be very disappointed if it stays at P15 billion," Aquino told Rappler's Lala Rimando in an exclusive sit-down interview in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday, October 17. The President was referring to the target revenues set under a bill that the Senate ways and means committee recently approved.

"We are reasonably confident it will be passed, whether (additional revenues will be) P30, P40, P60 billion," he said.

"We have a lot of advocates in the House and Senate to be able to reach between P30 and P40, at least, for both products (tobacco and alcohol)."

The version the House of Representatives approved in June seeks to raise P31 billion revenues from proposed higher sin taxes in the first year of implementation. This amount is half of the P60 billion the Department of Finance had earlier proposed.

The President reiterated the goals of the sin tax bill -- to generate additional revenues, which will be directed primarily to health care, and to discourage people from using tobacco and alcohol products.

Earlier, Aquino said he believes the measure will be passed even before senators seek reelection next year.

The sin tax bill's fate hangs in the balance after Senator Ralph Recto stepped down from his post as chair of the Senate ways and means committee on Monday, October 15.

Aquino said he last talked to Recto prior to the release of the comittee's report, which critics said was a "watered-down" version of the bill.

"After that, we haven't (talked), just via text as to exactly why he [gave] up the chairmanship of ways and means committee."

Recto wants to withdraw the committee report, but his successor, Senator Franklin Drilon, said the report could only be withdrawn upon concurrence of committee members.

Drilon said the ways and means panel will meet to decide on how to proceed with the sin tax deliberations. - Rappler.com


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