MANILA - The poor will bear the brunt of a possible excise tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, a business group said Tuesday, adding it was "open" to a dialogue with the government.
The D and E income brackets consume most of soft drinks, juice drinks and powdered juices that may be taxed, said Jesus Arranza, chairman of the Federation of Philippine Industries.
Arranza said the tax might push up prices. “Any additional tax you impose, it will add up to the price to the end users,” he said.
“Yung batas hindi pantay-pantay. The law is a violation of the constitutional provision of equal protection of law. You are protecting yung mayayaman na yan but you are putting the burden sa mahihirap. Is that the right taxation?” Arranza said.
(The proposed law is not fair. The law is a violation of the constitutional provision of equal protection of law. You are protecting the rich but you are putting the burden on the poor. Is that the right taxation?)
The sugary drinks tax is part of a broader reform package that also seeks higher duties on fuel to offset a planned reduction in income tax rates.
Arranza said that among class D, 67 percent buy softdrinks, 51 percent consume juice drinks and 52 percent go for powdered juices. Among class E, 16 percent consume softdrinks, 37 percent buy juice drinks and 35 percent patronize powdered juices.
“If you give me a choice, I will always select the best for us and the best for consumers and the right way for taxing. In the future, dun ko na lang sasabihin habang nag-uusap (I will leave it at that while there are talks),” Arranza said.
“We are still open. Sino ba naman kami na sasalungat sa pamahalaan? (Who would want to go against government)” he said.
Arranza said it was wrong to blame obesity entirely on sugar-sweetened drinks when studies showed that rice comprises 42.2 percent of an average person's food consumption, compared to just 1.6 percent for sugary drinks.