Beverage industry opposes tax increase for sweetened drinks

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Beverage industry players in the Philippines on Tuesday expressed their opposition to the proposed tax-hike for softdrinks and other sweetened beverages, saying “this is anti-poor.”

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In a statement, the Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines (BIAP) said it supported the Department of Finance (DOF) in the call for holistic tax reforms instead of piecemeal measures.

“We believe this reduces inequity in the taxation structure, promotes inclusive growth, empowers our consumers and the middle-class, and boost our country’s competitiveness,” it said.

The group noted that “tax measures that simply trade one form of revenue for another do not and will not address the problems of fiscal reform.”

“We at BIAP continue to oppose House Bill 3365, which seeks to impose additional taxes on soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. It is anti-poor and anti-business,” it said.

BIAP joins the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP), Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in saying that there was a need for a genuine income tax reform in the country to empower more Filipinos.

It, however, pointed out that increasing taxes on the usual items that common Filipinos buy like powdered juice drinks, three-in-one coffee, and ready-to-drink juice “is taking away this power from the Filipino consumer” and a disservice to the masses.

It said the proposed measure exempts 100 percent pure and natural fruit and vegetable juices, 100 percent pure or fresh milk, all milk products and alternatives as well as yogurt and yogurt beverages, which are “typically positioned in the premium market and consumed by more affluent consumers.”

“Our opposition to this bill is in line with the position of the Aquino Administration that there would be no new taxes for consumers—a promise that President Aquino has kept over the length of his term.

PNA

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