Senate to do 'best effort' on tobacco tax hike: Sotto tells Dominguez

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2019 10:35 AM | Updated as of May 24 2019 10:46 AM

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MANILA -- Senate President Tito Sotto said Friday the chamber would exert its "best effort" to pass a Palace-backed increase in cigarette taxes before the current Congress closes in 2 weeks.

Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez was notified in a caucus that the Senate did not have enough time to double the current P32 tobacco tax over 5 years, Sotto said.

Should the current Congress fail to pass the measure, it will need to be refiled in the new Congress, which will open in July.

"Maganda naman 'yung mga sinasabi niya pero best effort kami sapagkat gipit sa oras pagkat tinamaan ng eleksyon, campaign period [ang session]," Sotto said, referring to Dominguez, who made the case for higher tobacco tuxes to fund universal health care.

(His proposal is good but we could only give our best effort because of time constraints. The session days were effected by the elections and the campaign period.)

Senators are expected to debate on the proposal next week, but there are only about 6 session days remaining, Sotto said.

"Sinabi na din namin sa kaniya na lalabas sa interpellations na habang itinataas ninyo ang sa tobacco, paano ang ginagawa ninyo sa mga smuggler, sa mga illegal, sa mga fake cigarettes?" the Senate president said.

(We already told Sec. Dominguez the issues that will be raised during interpellations. While ask for tax hikes, what are they doing to curb smuggling, illegal and fake cigarettes?)