MANILA - Senator Sonny Angara said on Tuesday that Sen. Manny Pacquiao's proposal to hike the tax on tobacco needs to be backed by further studies.
Last week, Pacquiao filed a bill proposing to double the tax on cigarettes from P30 per pack to P60 per pack with a 9 percent increase every year.
Angara said that the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, which he chairs, will consider the proposal "as soon as the appropriate government agencies have submitted additional and substantial studies and analysis."
"It is important to note that the sin tax law already provides for an automatic indexation of tax rates, meaning they go up every year as it is," Angara said in a statement.
Angara noted that the collections from the sin tax law had been increasing since its enactment in 2012, but fell in 2016 despite higher excise tax rates. He said the government still needs to determine why this happened before considering changes to tobacco taxes.
"The sin tax collections fund our PhilHealth premiums that enabled the government in recent years to cover more beneficiaries. We don't want to see a decline in the funding that will reduce the benefits for PhilHealth beneficiaries," Angara said.
Pacquiao is reportedly planning to introduce the bill during the period of amendments in November, when senators finalize their version of the first package of tax reforms. -- with a report from Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News