Zubiri optimistic of Senate’s swift nod to tobacco tax hike bill

MANILA Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is optimistic that the upper chamber can pass the bill seeking to increase excise taxes on tobacco products by Wednesday or Monday next week at the latest.

In an ambush interview on Tuesday, Zubiri assured that the tobacco tax hike bill, which was certified by President Rodrigo Duterte as urgent, can be approved on final reading within the remaining session days of the 17th Congress.

Matapos by tomorrow (Wednesday). Pinaka-latest na ng Lunes. Kung certified siya agad-agad mati-third reading namin (It can be done tomorrow, or Monday at the latest. If it is certified [as urgent], it can be approved on third reading immediately [after the second reading approval]), Zubiri said.

Zubiri, however, noted that there is no material time to convene a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the differing provisions in the respective versions of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Zubiri suggested that the House adopt the Senate version of the bill to dispense with the bicam.

We don't have any more material time for a bicam. We're hoping that they could just adopt the Senate version, Zubiri added.

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has already assured in a letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III that the lower chamber would "await the action of the Senate and stand ready to adopt the Senate version in the interest of speedy legislation.

The Senate bill 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.

It proposes the following scheduled increase: PHP45 per pack increase effective Jan. 1, 2020 until Dec. 31, 2021, PHP50 in January 2021, PHP55 per pack in January 2022 and PHP60 per pack effective Jan. 1, 2023. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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