Sin taxes may only target big tobacco, Enrile says

by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2012 08:10 PM | Updated as of Nov 30 2012 04:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile on Thursday said some people are toying with the idea of raising the tax burden on the tobacco industry and less on alcohol when the sin tax bill is pushed in the bicameral conference committee.

At the weekly Kapihan sa Senado, Enrile told reporters that from the version adopted by the Senate, which expects to divide the P40 billion revenue from sin taxes, the information he heard was that it will be modified.

The Senate adopted a 60/40 sharing, or P24 billion from tobacco and P16 billion from alcohol.

Enrile, however, said the information he got would raise the tobacco revenue to P29 billion and P11 billion only for alcohol.

"Maybe by policy consideration or pressure. But I'm not talking about Malacañang, Palace is out of this" he said.

Enrile fears that such move would seriously affect the tobacco industry and take its toll on the local tobacco farmers.

He does not subscribe to the theory that raising the tax on tobacco would eventually eradicate smoking, but would only bring another problem -- smuggling.

While the sin tax bill is still in review, Enrile said smuggling of cigarettes is already happening. He showed a pack of China-made cigarettes bought in Divisoria.

He showed the cigarette pack at the media forum.

He suspects that the cigarette pack may be smuggled, because the brand was not included in the list that was presented to the Senate during the committee hearings.

Enrile is planning to have the brand checked by government agencies.