Malaya - Tobacco gets the bigger burden

7 December 2012

By Wendell Vigilia and JP Lopez | Malaya

THE bicameral conference committee on the reform sin tax measure yesterday afternoon approved in principle to slash the incremental revenue target from P40 billion, as approved by the Senate, to P35 billion, and also approved the 70-30 burden sharing with tobacco getting the bigger tax burden.

“So far, we have agreed that the incremental revenue for next year will be at P35 billion. The only option that we had is the one that brought down the taxes on alcohol products compared with tobacco (products),” Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a member of the Senate contingent, said.

He said the bicameral committee will likely adopt the proposal to draw 70 percent of the revenue from tobacco and 30 percent from the liquor industry for 2013.

Marcos said that while the burden on sharing on tobacco and alcohol will be 70-30, he suspects that “tobacco tax would go up to as much as 90 percent by 2017.”

“This is getting worse,” Marcos told reporters at the sidelines of the bicam meeting at the House of Representatives.

Marcos insisted that the tax burden should be equally divided between tobacco and alcohol.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, another member of the Senate contingent, said the bicam conference committee has no authority to alter what the Senate had approved, particularly the contentious 60-40 burden-sharing between tobacco and alcohol products.

The Senate version of the measure proposed a 60-40 burden sharing system for tobacco and alcohol while the House wanted an 85-15 burden sharing system.

“We have to go back to our colleagues, kasi yan ang napagkasunduan during caucus na 60-40. At matibay ang usapan na yan. Kung babaguhin dapat magpaalam kami sa kasamahan sa Senado,” Lacson told the Kapihan sa Senado.

“Ikokonsulta lang namin. Bicam na ito, may position ang Senate. We pledged to uphold and defend, dahil yan ang position ng Senado, kung ano ang position ng Senate yan ang position ng representatives sa bicam,” he said.

“Kung di kami makatapos today at dahil may deadlock sa ganoong usapan, babalik kami sa kasamahan namin, sasabihin namin ang situation na nagpe-prevail, baka matalo sa botohan doon. It’s their call. Kami lang ang sugo roon pero wala kaming freedom to alter kung ano ang aming napagkasunduan,” he added.

Lacson ruled out a potential deadlock in the bicameral talks on the sin tax bill that lawmakers are working to pass before going on a Christmas recess.