'Retailers hoarded cigarettes, alcohol ahead of sin tax implementation'

by Kathleen A. Martin, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Jan 02 2013 11:19 AM | Updated as of Jan 03 2013 05:28 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Some retailers have taken advantage of the expected rise in prices of alcohol and tobacco products as they hoarded these products prior to the sin tax reform implementation on January 1 .

"Actually they took advantage. Some people, what they did, they purchased and stockpiled projecting that there would be an increase in prices on January 1," Kim Jacinto-Henares, commissioner at the Bureau of Internal Revenue, told DZMM late Tuesday.

This means that some retailers may have already hiked prices of their alcohol and tobacco products even if said commodities were not covered by the increase in excise tax recently adopted by the government.

The government implemented an increase in taxes slapped on alcohol and tobacco products on January 1. However, this only applies to products freshly out of factories or newly-arrived at ports. 

"Nakiki-ride sila (retailers) dun sa project na pag-increase ng presyo," she stressed.

But the government may have no way of stopping retailers who aim to rake in windfall profits as alcohol and tobacco products are not covered by price control measures, Henares said.

"Hindi kasi basic commodity ang sigarilyo at alcohol so wala pong price control sa produkto na yan. So wala pong hoarding na violation," Henares explained.

However, the retailers will still have to report their growing profits so they still will be taxed accordingly, Henares stressed.

"Ang mangyayari lang po ay dapat ireport nila ang income nila. Magbabayad siya ng karagdagang VAT. They should report because that will also be covered by our audit," Henares said.

The higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco products are seen to bring in additional revenues of P33 billion, which will be used for the country's universal health care program.