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Senate to make proposed excise tax on sodas more 'reasonable'

A senator on Thursdays said that the Senate will make it a point to make the government's proposal to impose an excise tax of PHP10 per liter on sodas and other sweetened drinks more "reasonable".

"…Titignan natin kung ano yung rasonable talaga (We will see what is reasonable)," Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara told reporters after the hearing on the propose House Bill 292.

Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, acknowledged that imposing the proposed excise tax on sodas could affect "sari-sari" store owners who are mostly poor.

He said the proposed tax adjustment was rather "high" and that the Senate and concerned agencies such as the Department of Finance is still reviewing similar measures abroad.

The senator said that they are also studying other options to implement the proposed tax adjustment as the current system depended on the volume of a sweetened drink regardless of the amount of sugar it contains.

He said that the Senate panel expects to come up with a committee report by September.

The DOF previously said that the government can collect a revenue of approximately PHP47 billion with the proposed tax adjustment.

In a separate interview, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri said that he wants to cut the proposed tax adjustment from PHP10 per liter to PHP5 per liter to mitigate how it can impact sugar farmers.

"I’m pushing for a 40 percent reduction of PHP5 per liter sugar tax," Zubiri told reporters.

On the other hand, Sen. Joel Villanueva said that he had no problem with the amount but expressed concern on the country’s inactive sugar industry.

"I don't have problems with PHP10. I have problems with imported sugar. If you look at our sugar industry, it's not so much active. Why? Because we are importing from Thailand," Villanueva told reporters.

Villanueva, meanwhile, stressed the importance of striking a balance between health concerns and tax concerns.

"Ang importante para sa akin ay makita ng taumbayan na mayroon silang alternative at mayroon silang choice na hindi kumuha ng affordable, unhealthy drinks (What’s important for me is that the people see that they have an alternative and they have a choice to avoid getting affordable, unhealthy drinks)," he said.

Azer N. Parrocha/PNA