The congressional oversight committee on the Sin Tax Reform Act should start reviewing the revenue and health impact of the tax rates mandated under the law to determine what measures should be undertaken by the legislature once the statute matures in 2017, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.
In a statement on Thursday, Dominguez described Republic Act (RA) 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Act as “a very good law,” saying it should be fully implemented and allowed to run its course.
RA 10351 mandates the current two-tiered tax rate merge into a unitary tax rate of P30 per cigarette pack for all brands starting January 1, 2017, and the rate indexed to inflation by increasing it to 4 percent annually.
“We consider the Sin Tax Law or RA 10351 to be a very good law,” Dominguez said.
“Our position,” he said, “is to fully implement the law and let it run its course, including Section 11, which states that ‘starting the third quarter of calendar year 2016, the Committee (referring to the Congressional Oversight Committee) is mandated to review the impact of the tax rates provided under this Act.’”
Dominguez said the Department of Finance (DOF) expects “this review to occur” as mandated by law and for it to “be done well to inform what we should be doing in the future.”
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin, meanwhile, clarified that the figures in the unitary sin tax system that is supposed to be adopted beginning next year, as mandated by law, are still “very preliminary numbers,” and that the DOF is still conducting a thorough study of the sin tax rates, taking into account the public health impact of the law and the price elasticities of cigarettes.
“When this was asked during the hearing (last Monday) of the House committee on ways and means, I mentioned that the figure is very preliminary and we are still studying the ideal price point considering the price elasticities of the products as well as the intended health effects of the sin tax law,” Agabin said.
Agabin is referring to a meeting at the House Committee on Ways and Means on the proposed House Bill (HB) 4144 that seeks to maintain a two-tier excise tax system on cigarettes.
The bills seeks a P32 tax rate per pack of cigarettes priced at P11.50 and below and P36 per pack for cigarettes with a net retail price above P11.50.