Enrile committed to support passage of the sin tax bill

October 22, 2012 10:00 pm 

MANILA, Oct. 22 – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on Monday he is personally committed to support the passage of the measure which aims to impose higher taxes on the sin products such as cigarettes and alcoholic drinks.

”I am committed to pass this measure hand and hand with the (proposed 2013 national) budget,” Enrile said in an interview with the Senate media.

Enrile, however, clarified he could not speak for his colleagues who have varied opinions on the sin tax bill.

The veteran lawmaker also said he will support the plan to use the Senate version of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, referring to Senate Bill Nos. 2998 and 3249, which recommends P60 billion revenue collection both from cigarettes and alcohol products.

”I will select the Santiago bill because it is closer to the version of the Department of Finance. So, we should start from the bill that gives the highest yield to the government,” Enrile said.

The DOF also suggested P60 billion tax collection in the first year of implementation of the proposed law.

”And it is up to the members of the Senate to scale it down, to the level they think reasonable enough and effective enough to give revenues to the government but reasonable enough not to destroy the industry,” Enrile said.

Under Santiago’s bill, some 85 percent of the budget will be used for the government’s health care program and the rest for poor tobacco farmers.

”We have to bear in mind that a lot of people earn income in the tobacco industry. You have to consider all of these. The same in alcohol. And there is competition, there is imported cigarettes and imported distilled spirits and fermented liquor,” Enrile said.

Enrile clarified that he is not blocking the sin tax bill though he refused to give time frame for the passage of the measure.

”It will depend on the sponsor,” Enrile said, referring to Senator Franklin Drilon, who has been designated as acting chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means after Senator Ralph Recto resigned as chairman.

Recto resigned last week after his alleged ‘watered down’ version under his committee report drew criticisms after he sliced the P60-billion tax collection target to just P15 billion.

The Senate is expected to tackle the sin tax bill when Congress resumes session in November from a two-week break. (PNA)



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