Beverage makers seek changes to sugar tax proposal

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2017 09:57 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2017 10:26 AM

Sachets of powdered drinks hang in a stall in Quezon City. The Duterte administration's tax reform program includes an P10-per-liter duty on sweetened drinks. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Beverage makers on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers to consider revising the proposed excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks to make it more effective as a health measure.

The duty should be based on the sugar content, instead of on the volume of the finished drink, Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines executive director Roman Romulo said.

The Department of Finance is proposing a P10 excise tax per liter of sugar-sweetened beverages, including soft drinks and instant coffee.

"Mas fairer kasi kung ipapasa siya as a health measure, at sinasabi na dahil sa diabetes at obesity, tingnan natin kung ano yung asukal ng bawat beverage at yung mas marami ang sugar content, yung mas maraming nilalaman na asukal, yun ang mapapatawan ng mas mataas na buwis," Romulo told ANC's Headstart.

(It's fairer, if it is passed as a health measure against diabetes and obesity, let's look at the sugar content of each beverage. Those that contain more sugar should carry higher taxes.)

While the instances of diabetes and obesity had indeed risen in the past year, Filipinos' sugar intake has fallen, Romulo said, citing data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute

Obesity is mostly observed in the higher income classes of A and B, Romulo said.

However, a survey from AC Nielsen found that the consumers who would most likely be affected by the tax increase on sugar sweetened drinks would be from the lower brackets of C, D, and E.

"Hopefully, at yun ang pakiusap namin sa Department of Finance at sa Senado, talagang tingnan natin unang una, sino yung consumers," Roman told ANC's Headstart.

(That is our appeal to the Department of Finance and the Senate. Let's consider the consumers first.)

The Senate has started deliberations on the tax reform bill, which also calls for higher taxes on fuel and cars to offset a reduction in income tax rates. The House of Representatives passed its version of the measure in May.