Drilon remains hopeful for bicam nod on Sin Tax bill before year ends

December 5, 2012 11:15 pm 

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, Dec. 5 – Senator Franklin Drilon remains hopeful that the bicameral conference committee will approve the Sin Tax Bill despite contentious issue on the rates and earmarking of P40-billion revenue goal from cigarettes and alcohol products.

”We have agreed on the disagreeing provisions, but we have set aside, for further discussion, the rates and earmarking on all,” Drilon told the Senate reporters after the bicam meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Drilon said the bicam has ran out of time to discuss the burden sharing as he also led a Senate panel in a separate bicameral conference committee that approved the P2.006-trillion national budget for 2013 on Wednesday morning.

”We have not discussed the burden sharing because that is precisely a matter that we have deferred for further discussion. We have no more time to discuss it,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the bicam also had not yet discussed a provision which would require cigarette manufacturers to get 15 percent of their materials from local Virginia tobacco.

Despite failure to touch contentious provisions, Drilon told the media that the bicam would approve the measure and have it signed by President Benigno Aquino III before the end of the year.

”Certainly, yes,” Drilon said.

In a separate interview, Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. said a suggestion had been made to change the burden sharing from Senate-approved 60-40 sharing to 70-30 up to 80-20 with tobacco industry to bear the highest share.

”We don’t understand why tobacco has to bear the highest share,” Marcos, also member of bicam representing Senate majority, said.

Marcos said he would insist that bicam should be consistent with the approved provision on 60-40 burden sharing.

The Senate has approved version of the bill, which imposed higher tax on the tobacco and alcohol products with the objective of collecting additional P40 billion in the first year of the implementation.

The additional revenues will be used for the government’s universal health care program and for financial assistance to the tobacco farmers and workers who might be affected by the higher tax on sin products. (PNA)

RMA/JFM

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