Bill imposing higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco certified as urgent

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    PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday certified as urgent a measure increasing excise taxes on alcohol, vape products, and tobacco to support the Universal Health Care Act.

    In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte called for the immediate enactment of Senate Bill 1074 that increases excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and vape products.

    Under the bill, beer and other alcoholic drinks will have a specific tax of P45 per liter on the first year of the law’s implementation and will increase by P10 for every year until the fourth year. The specific tax rate will increase by 10 percent every following year.

    Wine products will also have a specific tax of P600 per liter for the sparkling ones, and P43 per liter for still and carbonated wines.

    The bill also proposes to increase taxes on e-cigarettes from P10 per pack to P45 per pack on the first year.

    The measure aims to raise P47.9 billion to support the UHC program. A similar measure was approved in the House of Representatives last August.

    Meanwhile, the Senate unanimously approved last Monday night Senate Resolution No. 213 which urged the Executive Department “not to pursue the planned liberalization of the sugar industry.”

    Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the resolution was aimed to safeguard the welfare of 84,000 sugar farmers and 720,000 industry workers in more than 20 provinces in the country.

    Zubiri said senators were moved after economic managers proposed the liberalization of the sugar industry “through deregulation of imports and allowing users of sugar to directly import” which created fear among stakeholders.