Palace ready to face congressional inquiry on sin tax revenues

MANILA, Philippines – The government on Saturday, November 27, said that it is prepared to face a congressional inquiry on sin tax revenues.

On Friday, Cagayan de Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez filed House Resolution No. 1591, seeking a probe into the allocation of sin tax collections since the enactment of Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Law in 2012.

According to Rodriguez, the bulk of sin tax proceeds should help fund the country's universal healthcare program, but many Filipinos are still not covered by it.

He added that there are still cities and municipalities that do not have public clinics and hospitals, the construction of which should also be assisted by sin tax collections.

"We are prepared to show where the proceeds of sin tax are going, and we do not see a problem when we get called by Congress for an inquiry and asked to provide data," said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte said that the government strives to cover more PhilHealth beneficiaries, and continues to invest in more hospital facilities as evidenced by the budget of the Department of Health (DOH).

"Nonetheless, if clarity regarding the issue is requested, we are ready to go to Congress and present our data," she said.

The Sin Tax Law imposes higher taxes on the sale of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

It was expected to generate an additional P34-billion revenue in 2013, the first year of the law's implementation, which will be spent for the universal health care program, tobacco farmers' livelihood, and the construction of health facilities. –