Bicam approves sin tax bill; ratification set for Tuesday

by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2012 04:13 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2012 07:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The bicameral conference committee approved the sin tax reform bill on Monday.

The bicam panel finished reconciling the clashing provisions of the Senate and House versions of the sin tax bill, after a 4-hour meeting.

Under the sin tax measure, local government units and legislative districts will get 20% of the total revenues "for medical assistance and health enhancements."

Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon said the panel also decided to give 80% to universal health care under the national health insurance program among other health related projects.

The bicameral panel will formally sign the report on Tuesday, and will be submitted for ratification at the plenary of the Senate and House by Tuesday afternoon.

"This is a breakthrough reform measure," Drilon said.

Drilon clarified though that these earmarkings are subject to Republic Acts 7171 and 8240 on Virginia tobacco.

The sin tax reform law has been repackaged as a health measure to discourage smoking while generating revenues for the government.

The bill will also allocate funds for the government's campaign against the smuggling of cigarettes and distilled spirits.

It also accepted Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's proposal to require local sellers to source 15 percent of tobacco leaf materials locally "subject to adjustment based on international treaty commitments."

Drilon hopes the sin tax reform law can be signed into law before Christmas as the Law is effective January 1, 2013.

Earlier, the panel agreed to cover all local hospitals as beneficiaries in revenues from the tax measure.

The bicameral panel also approved a 69%-31% burden sharing for the tobacco and alcohol industries once the consolidated bill becomes law next year.