Congress should open the bicameral conference committee meetings on sin taxes to the public, advocates said. According to them, they have information the bicameral committee will be meeting for the first time on Friday, November 30 – after the Senate and the House assign members who will sit in the committee. Anthony Leachon, health department consultant on non-communicable diseases, said, “We need to make it open so we will prevent killer insertions during the bicam, knowing that the bicam is shrouded in secrecy.” Perhaps the most lobbied legislation, the sin tax bill has pitted health champions against those protecting the tobacco and alcohol industries. The measure covering sin products hurdled the Senate in November 20 by a vote of 15-2 and is expected to raise revenues of P39.5 billion for government in the first year, while the House version will bring in only P30 billion. The sin tax measure is among the priority measures of the President who is eyeing additional revenues from sin taxes to fund his universal health care program.
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