MANILA Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he would propose to allocate 100 percent of the proceeds from the tobacco tax hike bill to fund the government's Universal Health Care program.
What I would propose is that, the increases in the excise tax on tobacco as a result of the sin tax that we are working on now should be devoted solely to the universal health program and benefit the entire country, Drilon said in an interview.
Senate Bill 2232 proposes an increase of PHP45 to PHP60 per pack in excise tax beginning next year to 2023 and then 5-percent yearly hike effective Jan. 1, 2024.
The measure was already certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to the Department of Health, 85 percent of the proceeds from the excise tax is used to finance government health programs80 percent for the UHC and 20 percent for improvement of facilities in government hospitals.
The remaining 15 percent of the proceeds will go to livelihood programs and financial assistance to tobacco farmers.
Drilon said that the UHC program would need PHP257 billion for the first year of implementation, with PHP195 billion provided for in the General Appropriations Act.
However, Drilon pointed out that the value of tobacco production is grossly disproportionate to the allocation the tobacco-producing provinces receive under Republic Act 7171.
Under the said law, local government units that produce Virginia-type cigarettes would receive 15-percent share of the tax collection.
As it turns out, the total industry of tobacco in Northern Luzon is about P3.8 billion, while the earmarked funds for tobacco industry is about PHP18 billion. The amount given is grossly disproportionate, Drilon said.
The Senate is expected to pass the tobacco tax hike bill by Monday. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency