STARTING January 1, 2013, companies producing alcohol and tobacco products will be paying more taxes to the government after President Benigno Aquino III signed on Thursday Republic Act 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform 2012. Aquino said the new law aims to favor both the government and the Filipino people since revenues to be generated from the measure will be used to fund health insurance programs for the poor, and build and renovate hospitals in the country. Under the new law, the government is expected to raise additional revenues of P33.96 billion on the first year of implementation. To breakdown, P23.4 billion of the amount is expected to come from cigarettes, P6.06 billion from distilled spirits and P4.5 billion from fermented liquors. Aquino said 80 percent of the expected revenue will be allocated for universal health care under the National Health Insurance Program and 20 percent will be for the medical assistance and health enhancement facilities program. Aside from the increase revenues, Aquino said the new law is also expected to reduce smoking and drinking of alcohol among Filipinos, especially the youth. With the increase in taxes, it is expected that retail prices of alcohol and cigarette products would also increase. But Senators Ralph Recto and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said the bill is expected to displace tobacco farmers and worsen smuggling. Recto also said the increase in excise taxes might lead to “massive job dislocation” in affected industries. Some politicians argue that even with the increase in taxes and the expected hike in the prices of alcohol and tobacco products, Filipinos would still find ways to buy. Therefore, the law is not a guarantee that the number of Filipinos hooked to the so-called “sin products” would considerably decrease. But the new law has yet to take effect. We can only see how it fares after a year of implementation. By 2014, we will see if the expected revenue is achieved or not; or whether the statistics would get down. One thing is for sure, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has a great job ahead – and that is, to really go after these companies and compel them to pay the correct taxes.
Covering the Sin Tax Bill: Mostly focused on Policy Issues
By CMFR | 21 Dec 2012
PROMINENTLY IN the news in October and November this year was the “sin” tax bill (now known as Republic Act No. 10351 or An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco). The extent of reporting depended on the medium. Newspaper coverage was comprehensive, the reports appearing in the front and inside pages, while a number of columns explained the possible effects of the bill on the economy, government revenues, and citizen health. The reports in television were either event-based or focused on the possible impact of the bill on such groups as tobacco farmers and workers, vendors, cancer survivors, consumers, and health advocates. The bill, which has since been signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III, aims to increase excise-taxes on cigarettes and liquor. Media coverage of the bill mostly focused on policy issues. As a health measure, the intention is to save thousands of lives, especially among the youth, from smoking-related deaths. As a revenue measure, it aims to collect billions in revenue from “sin” product consumers. Those opposed to the bill, however, looked at its implications from an economic perspective, arguing that its passage would ruin the tobacco industry. PJRR reviewed the media’s coverage of the debate on and passage of the bill from October 10 to November 25. PJRR reviewed the coverage of BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Malaya Business Insight, Manila Bulletin, Manila Standard Today, Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Daily Tribune, The Manila Times, and The Philippine Star. The coverage by TV news programs 24 Oras, Bandila, Newslife, Saksi, State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, and TV Patrol was also monitored during the same dates. Previous...