DOF backs higher alcohol tax

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    The Department of Finance (DOF) has expressed its support for the higher alcohol excise tax rates proposed under Senate Bill (SB) No. 1074, which was sponsored in plenary by Senate ways and means committee chairperson Pia Cayetano.

    Karl Kendrick Chua, finance undersecretary, said in a statement yesterday the DOF will continue to extend the necessary technical assistance to help preserve the rates in the Senate ways and means committee report, as plenary deliberations resume, hopefully, as soon as the Senate comes back in session.

    “We are one with Senator Cayetano in her push for significantly higher rates in alcohol excise taxes. Her analysis is correct that beyond the personal health costs, the socioeconomic costs of alcohol need to be mitigated. The massive economic costs of alcohol abuse justify significantly higher rates. For behavior to change meaningfully, the tax rates have to be high enough,” Chua said.

    Earlier, Cayetano said a significantly higher increase in the excise tax on alcohol products would be the “singular, reasonable and patriotic conclusion” of the extensive committee hearings conducted by the Senate tax panel after members “listened to various stakeholders, questioned and analyzed relevant information provided by resource persons and experts, in both the private and public sectors.”

    Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, has described Cayetano’s proposal as “well-studied” and called for the bill’s swift approval in the Senate, as he acknowledged Cayetano’s “strong advocacy of safeguarding the health of our people.”

    During her sponsorship speech last September 25, Cayetano described higher rates on “sin” products as “what our social conscience dictates, guided by our concern for the welfare of families and children, and in pursuit of the public good.”

    Cayetano went on to cite the massive social, physical and psychological costs of excessive alcohol consumption.

    “Wonderful lives are cut short because of people who drink and drive. We often hear about innocent people dying from road crashes–someone who was once a father, a mother, a child, or a friend. In seconds, their lives are forever changed or wasted because a drunk person foolishly decided to take the wheel and drive,” Cayetano said.

    SB 1074 was in the period of interpellation when the Congress took a break last October 4.

    The Senate and the House of Representatives will resume session on November 4.