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Philippine passage of sin tax law amendment

By Joann Santiago

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the government will continue to work with lawmakers for the passage of sin tax law amendment to further improve the government’ fiscal position.

Senators have yet to decide on the Upper House’s version of the bill after Sen. Ralph Recto resigned as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and withdrew his report.

Recto’s report would have been the Senate’s sin tax amendment version to be discussed in the bicameral committee.

The Recto version provides for an additional P15 billion revenues from alcohol and cigarette products in the first year of implementation.

This is half of the P30 billion gains based on the House version, which is already a 50 percent decline from the Department of Finance’s P60 billion projected revenue.

Some senators have earlier indicated that they might adopt the bill sponsored by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago because its revenue impact is closer to the DOF version.

The Senate is currently on recess and will resume its session on Nov 5.

Senators vowed to pass the sin tax law amendments by mid-November, ahead of their decision on the 2013 national budget, which is targeted to be approved by December.

Purisima said the Finance Department “remains committed to push for reforms in fiscal policy and revenue-generating legislation” and “continue to have a healthy working relationship with the honorable senators.”

“We have no reason to doubt the pronouncements of the acting chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Sen. Frank Drilon, that the Senate will maximize the health and revenue impacts of the reform of excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol,” he said.

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