Business Mirror – Marcos vows to press key amendments to ‘sin’ tax bill

By Butch Fernandez | Business Mirror

businessMirrorSEN. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed to push at Monday’s Senate session key amendments to correct “flawed assumptions and bloated figures” in the “sin” tax revenue projections submitted by the Department of Finance (DOF) to justify proposed higher taxes on all brands of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks.

Senate leaders said they are set to pass on Monday the controversial sin-tax measure on second and third reading in one sitting, having been certified as urgent by President Aquino, so senators could proceed to tackle the P2-trillion national budget for 2013 and have it approved, as well, before Congress goes on Christmas recess.

“Papalitan natin ang mga calculations para maging mas totoo ang ating mga ginagamit na numbers,” Marcos told reporters, saying he will move to correct the DOF “miscalculations” during the period of amendments when the Senate resumes plenary debates on the revised P45-billion sin-tax bill.

Interpellating Sen. Franklin Drilon at last week’s session, Marcos cited the submissions by the DOF where the assumed growth of the consumption of tobacco “was indexed, or was tied to, the expected growth rate of the economy… at 5 percent or 6 percent.”

Marcos then presented his own study showing a recalculation of that growth rate to what is the historical growth rate of the tobacco industry, in terms of consumption, at 1.97 percent.

“This is the actual empirical data and from that empirical date, we have transposed the rate of increase… at the calculation of 1.97 percent,” which Marcos said would peg the incremental revenue from tobacco taxes at P16.54 billion instead of P26.87-billion targeted revenue in the DOF proposal that was based on 5-percent growth.

Re-electionist senators warned

RE-ELECTIONIST senators may lose 1 million votes each in the tobacco-producing provinces if they would vote to approve the controversial sin-tax reform bill Malacañang is espousing.

The Northern Luzon bloc in the House of Representatives warned them to carefully weigh their vote on the bill as this will be the most important election issue in tobacco-producing provinces during the May 2013 polls.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Victor Ortega of La Union, president of the Northern Alliance, said that is but natural for tobacco farmers to declare who they will support during the coming polls.

“Of course they will support those who have been considerate of their plight in making a decision on the sin-tax bill,” Ortega said.

“It is but natural also for these tobacco farmers to say they will reject senatorial bets who will support a sin-tax bill version that will adversely affect the farmers’ plight. On the other hand, you can expect these farmers to support candidates who sympathized with them in the fight against hefty excise-tax rates,” he added.

Ortega said the voting power of tobacco farmers should not be undermined as there are an estimated 4.5 million farmers and other people directly involved in the industry in the 25 tobacco-producing provinces in the country.

In the Ilocos Region alone, which comprises the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and La Union, there are about 300,000 tobacco farmers and this could easily translate to one million votes if voting members of their families are included.

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