Sin tax a win for health –Cayetano

December 11, 2012 11:24 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 11 – Senator Pia Cayetano welcomed the Senate ratification of the bicameral conference committee report on the sin tax reform bill, saying the health services will receive a significant share under the measure’s earmarking provision on incremental revenues from higher taxes on tobacco and alcohol products.

“Sin tax represents a win for health and a boost to government’s commitment to improve and expand health and social services for our people,” said Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate committee on health and demography.

Cayetano, also a member of the seven-person Senate panel to the bicam, added that the bill does not turn its back on other sectors to be affected by higher sin taxes, as it will continue to honor commitments under earlier laws, Republic Act Nos. 8240 and 7171.

To ensure transparency and check-and-balance in the allocation and use of the earmarked funds, Cayetano said the earmarked funds will be subject to the guidelines of the Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management and the general accounting rules of the Commission on Audit.

“This should ensure that proceeds from the ‘sin’ taxes will be reinvested in appropriate health and social programs and spared from another social sin, which is corruption,” she said.

Cayetano said the bill underwent months of intense debates and proponents had to overcome lobbying by tobacco companies and other interest groups.

”But in the end, we were able to come up with a version that is consistent with the aim of enacting a health reform measure that would directly benefit the people,” Cayetano said.

“Our main objective is to raise our prices to make cigarettes a vice less accessible to the most vulnerable sector — the youth,” she explained.

Under the final version ratified by the Senate through 10-9 vote, the government is expected to collect an incremental revenue amounting to P33.96 billion in the first year of implementation in 2013.

Explaining the earmarking provision, she said that after the required allocations for R.A. 8240 and R.A. 7171 had been deducted, 80 percent of the remaining balance of the incremental revenue from higher sin taxes will be allocated to universal health care under the National Health Insurance Program, attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and health awareness programs.

The remaining 20 percent of the balance will be allocated nationwide, based on political and district subdivisions, for medical assistance and health enhancement facilities programs. The Department of Health will determine the annual requirements in the allocation of said funds. (PNA)

SCS/JFM

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