Bicam rejects sunset provision on sin tax bill

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2012 02:01 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2012 03:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the bicameral conference committee have rejected Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s insertion of a sunset provision for the sin tax bill, Sen. Panfilo Lacson revealed Thursday. 

A sunset provision provides for an expiry date for the effectivity of the law.

Lacson is a member of the Senate contingent to the bicameral panel tasked to reconcile the clashing provisions of the sin tax bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"Na-tackle kahapon that was resolved. Nawala sunset provision kasi function ng inflation how can you dictate on inflation kung ipe-peg mo na rates? Di pwede. Pag nagbago inflation ng bansa pwede mag amend to adjust to inflation,” he said. 

Lacson said he introduced an amendment to institutionalize the earmarking for health projects beyond 2016. The sin tax bill has been packaged as a health measure to discourage smokers from smoking while generating revenue for government. 

The senator said he is optimistic there will be no deadlock at the bicameral panel, confident they will approve the reconciled version today. "We’re hoping na ma-approve today kung magkasundo sa rates."

However, he said they will have to consult their colleagues in the upper chamber if the House will not agree with the Senate's proposal for a 60%-40% burden sharing between the tobacco and alcohol sectors.

"Dapat naman wag kalimutan na may semblance ng health measure,” he said. 

Closed to the public

Lacson was also surprised that the bicameral panel's meetings have been closed to the public.

The panel held a meeting Wednesday and reconciled the non-controversial but clashing provisions of the bills.

The House version envisions P31 billion revenues from sin taxes while the Senate version eyes P39 billion revenue.

The House reportedly wants to amend the burden-sharing provision of the Senate. Lacson said there is a strong lobby by many interest groups.