Freedom of Information (FOI) advocate and Right to Know, Right Now! convenor Nepomuceno Malaluan and Action for Economic Reforms (AER) President Jessica Cantos wrote Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, urging the President Aquino to include FOI, cigarette tax reform, and fiscal incentives rationalization bills in the President’s legislative agenda.
Last week, Representatives Victor Ortega (1st District La Union) and Eric Singson (2nd District Ilocos Sur) defended tobacco interests, arguing that there is no need to correct the excise tax on tobacco and cigarettes. They repeated the call earlier made by Phillip Nelson, President of Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corp. This if-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it argument is wrong. The system is really in shambles: the rates are not keeping up with inflation; some brands are still taxed based on their 1996 prices; and we have a complicated four-rate tax structure.
“From a societal concern, I say yes to the idea of an increase in sin taxes….As you know, these sin products have a health burden on the people.”
This was the statement of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy). His statement was an explicit signal to legislators to pass a law that will increase sin taxes and rectify the errors in the present law governing sin taxes.
The law on sin taxes needs to be overhauled. The sin taxes are not indexed to inflation. And the excise taxes on tobacco products especially are so convoluted, resulting in further erosion of revenues.