Recto allows Senate to use his committee report on Sin Tax bill

November 5, 2012 11:23 pm 

By Jelly Musico

MANILA, Nov. 5 – To speed up plenary debates on the Sin Tax Bill, Sen. Ralph Recto has allowed Senate committee on ways and means acting chairman Franklin Drilon to adopt Recto’s own committee report.

”I agree if that’s (what) the President wants. No problem with him in order to hasten the debate,” Recto said, when asked for comment on Drilon’s proposal to adopt the committee report.

However, Recto urged Drilon to remove his name and signature in the report that Recto withdrew when he resigned as ways and means chairman last month.

”It is up to the pleasure of the chairman what he wants to do with the committee report,” Recto said.

Recto insisted his version is more realistic and responsible as compared to the original version of the Dept. of Finance and Senate Bill 3249 filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

”We came out with our recommendation and I think it is a superior version. I think it is realistic, responsible, moderate increases, nobody will lose his job and government can collect revenue,” Recto said.

He, however, admitted that his committee report has flaws, prompting him to make amendments which he would introduce during the plenary debates.

Though he expressed intention to join floor debates, Recto said he would block the passage of the bill which aims to increase government’s revenue for healthcare programs.

”I will not be an obstacle. I have never been an obstacle in the Senate. My job is to reveal my findings and debate it on the floors so that we will find what is right and wrong,” he explained.

Earlier, Drilon said the Senate will adopt Recto’s report to open the debate on Tuesday but expressed inclination to consider the P40 billion collection target which the senators and DOF officials agreed to in a caucus three weeks ago.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Sin Tax bill and the proposed P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013 are the top two priority measures the Senate will have to pass before the Christmas break.

For his part, Sen. Edgardo Angara stressed that any excise tax resulting from deliberations on the sin tax bill should be equitable and take into consideration the interests of all the affected stakeholders.

”The sin tax should be equitable. We should weigh the issues between smokers and farmers, in the case of cigarettes, and make sure that we do not tax foreign-branded liquor indiscriminately given that we are part of the World Trade Organization [WTO],” Angara said.

According to Santiago’s and DOF’s proposal, sin tax revenues for the first year of implementation will amount to P60 billion while Recto’s version projected at least P15 billion in initial collections.

Angara explained deliberations in the Senate should start with Recto’s Committee Report No. 411 “so that there will be no need to go back to the start and assemble a new committee report.”

“From there, we move on and find the tax level that will satisfy health and revenue expectations. For me, P30 to P40 billion is the sweet spot—that is my calculation of what could be acceptable. There is a level where we can raise government revenues for healthcare while still able to preserve livelihood.”

Angara emphasized it would be best for deliberations on the bill to be finalized before the approval of the 2013 budget because the projected proceeds will be factored in. (PNA)

HBC/JFM

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