MANILA, Philippines – Go beyond party affiliation.
This was the plea made by anti-tobacco advocates to lawmakers on Monday, February 27, regarding House Bill No. 5727, or the sin tax reform bill for tobacco and alcohol products.
Dr Maricar Limpin, executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippine, told reporters that the revenues that the bill hopes to raise would be used to expand the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Crossing party lines, several lawmakers have opposed the administration-backed bill, which seeks to impose a unitary tax system for all kinds of tobacco and alcohol products. It is authored by Liberal Party Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition, for example, claimed that the proposed bill does not contain concrete plans for the distillery workers and tobacco farmers who will likely be displaced when it is approved. Other lawmakers said this would kill the tobacco and alcohol industries.
Limpin cited the bill’s benefits.
“Part of the revenues will also be used to help tobacco farmers shift to other crops… This is a health bill and not an economy bill because it will be used to improve our health insurance system,” she said. “A vote is either a vote to save the young and the poor or a vote to save the interest of the tobacco companies. We should rise above party affiliation and work on what’s best for the country s healthcare,” Limpin pointed out.
Lim said that tobacco generates some P25-B to P30-B in taxes annually. Data however show that healthcare expenditures from tobacco range from P100-B to P400-B each year, she said.
Given the current sin taxes on these products and government’s expenses in relation to tobacco use, the government does not earn enough from tobacco, Lim said. – Rappler.com