House bill seeks to tax firecrackers

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The House Ways and Means Committee has sought the position of the Department of Finance (DOF) on the proposal to impose a 20-percent excise tax on firecrackers.

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House Bill 3685 aims to regulate the use of firecrackers by imposing excise tax. The measure had been pending at the committee level since 2014.

“We are awaiting the DOF position, their estimates,” said Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina, who leads the panel.

He said the proposed excise or specific tax may depend on the nature or amount of gunpowder in firecrackers.

“The basic philosophy is that we don’t pass a revenue measure that is not administratively feasible,” the lawmaker said.

The panel held hearings last year on the bill which was opposed by the heads of the Philippine Pyrotechnics Manufacturers and Dealers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PPMDAPI) and Philippine Firecrackers Association (PFA).

Quimbo said Chairperson Celso Cruz of PPMDAPI and Joven Ong, who leads the PFA, said their industry’s growth and operations will be adversely affected.

They said local firecrackers and pyrotechnics comprise 20 percent of the market, thus government should instead curb the smuggling of imported fireworks and firecrackers.

But Quimbo said Congress would be able to minimize, if not put an end, to the use of dangerous firecrackers by exercising the power of taxation on the sale of firecrackers.

Several sectors prefer a stricter enforcement of Republic Act 7183 – the law regulating the sale, manufacture and distribution of firecrackers – while the Department of Health (DOH) wants a total ban on firecrackers because of the yearly injuries that occur during the holidays.

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