Increased sin taxes sought

We will definitely consider the proposals for higher taxes on sweetened beverages.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda stressed that he will guarantee the Department of Health’s request to increase excise tax rates on so-called “sin” products like sweetened beverages, cigarettes, alcohol, and tobacco products, including vape.

The lawmaker — who also chairs the House Ways and Means Committee — assured that his panel would thoroughly examine all of the DoH’s proposals after its Friday announcement that it intends to push for higher taxes on sweetened beverages and non-nutritious food.

“We will definitely consider the proposals for higher taxes on sweetened beverages. It might help reduce overall sugar demand and help us manage the supply deficit and reduce the need to import,” Salceda said.

“It seems like there is space, especially since sugary drinks increased prices year-on-year by just 3.9 percent last August,” he added.

Citing official statistics, Salceda disclosed that sugar prices climbed by 26 percent during the same period. As a result, there is very little pass-through mainly because sugary drinks employ imported bottler’s grade sugar, the wholesale price of which is only P20 per kilogram.

He reiterated that his committee would study the impact, especially since revenue collection has already flatlined to 32-35 billion per year.

“Definitely, my office will pursue more regulation, taxation aside. Definitely, we are going for a ban on sugary drinks in public and private grade schools,” he said.

However, Salceda stressed that the Ways and Means Committee is not in favor of a junk food tax despite acknowledging the Health Department’s suggestion.

“We are disinclined towards a junk food tax. It seems that global best practices that really work are closer to regulation than taxation, especially on salt levels. The Singapore model is industry and government working together to lower salt levels in food,” he added.

The veteran solon proposed that a better approach might be restricting sales in schools where children have greater access.

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