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Senate panel poised to raise tobacco excise tax

By Maila Ager/  February 08, 2019

The Senate committee on ways and means has agreed, in principle, to raise the excise tax on tobacco products, Senator Sonny Angara said on Friday.

“While there is no consensus yet on the final tax rate, there is an agreement in principle to increase the excise tax on tobacco products in order to raise funds for the Universal Health Care bill and substantially reduce the smoking prevalence among the youth,” Angara, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

The committee terminated last Monday its hearings on various bills aimed at raising the excise tax on tobacco products from the current P35 per pack.

A bill approved by the House of Representatives pegs the tobacco tax rate at P37.50 per pack while the tax rate being pushed in the Senate ranges from P60 to P90 per pack.

During the three hearings conducted by the committee, Angara said, representatives from various government agencies, the health sector, tobacco-growing provinces, tobacco companies and sectors affected by the proposals presented their arguments and submitted their comments for consideration by members of the Senate panel.

He said a draft report on the measure, which contains the position of the stakeholders and technical inputs from the Senate Tax Study and Research Office, is already being prepared and will be circulated to committee members for consideration.

Aside from raising the tax rate, the committee is also inclined to increase the penalties against illicit tobacco trade to give more teeth to the law, Angara said.

He said the committee report will be sponsored and deliberated on the floor when Congress resumes its sessions in May.

Congress is set to go on break this Friday. / gsg