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Congress approves higher tax on tobacco

THE HOUSE OF Representatives has adapted the Senate version of the measure that aims to raise the Excise tax on all tobacco products.

The House concurred with Senate Bill (SB) 2233 and adopted the same as an amendment to House Bill (HB) 8677. SB 2233, which was approved on final reading, proposes a staggered increase in the excise tax per cigarette pack from 2020 to 2023.

The measure recommends an increase in Excise tax on cigarettes to P45 per pack in 2020; P50 in 2021; P55 in 2021; and P60 in 2023, with a 5 percent annual increase thereafter. On the other hand, HB 8677, proposed lower rates of P37.50 to P45 per pack in 2022, and by 4 percent annually thereafter.

Cigarettes are at present levied P35 per pack after Republic Act 10963 increased it to P32.50 from P30 in January 2018 and to P35 beginning July 2018. It is scheduled to go up to P37.50 in January 2020. The House’s concurrence and adaption of SB 2233 dispenses the need for a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions, thus enabling Congress to immediately transmit the measure to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

Duterte certified SB 2233 as an urgent measure and in his letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, he said there is an “urgent need to further protect the health of the people and to maintain a broader fiscal space to support the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.” (By Jose Cielito Reganit)


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