President Duterte is all set to sign into law a bill seeking a higher tax on tobacco once it reaches his desk, said Malacañang assuring the public.
Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo stated after the Senate approved increasing the excise tax on tobacco products under the measure that the President had certified as urgent.
“Certainly. I think so. Yes, that was certified urgent by him,” Panelo noted.
The proposed law would not only generate funds for the government’s healthcare programs, but also dissuade cigarette use amid its harmful effects on a person’s health.
“Well, we need funds, we need funds apart from trying to discourage people from killing themselves in a way. Because they say so, smoking cigarette causes cancer and is dangerous to one’s health,” he added.
Duterte stated in a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd, wanted the immediate enactment of the Tobacco Tax Bill “to address the urgent need to further protect the right to health of the people and to maintain a broad fiscal space to support the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.”
The healthcare program requires P258 billion for its first year of implementation in 2020.
The government, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, however, could only raise P195 billion.
The excise tax rates planned by the Departments of Finance and Health seeks to increase excise taxes on sin products to at least P60 per pack for cigarettes and at least P40 per liter for alcohol products.
The House of Representatives’ version pursues to raise it to P45 per pack, to be implemented in tranches until 2022.
A Senate bill proposes a starting rate of P45 in 2020, followed by a series of annual P5-increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023.
The proposed bill is included in the President’s legislative agenda for the 17th Congress.