PNoy urges Congress to pass sin tax reform

Posted at 07/23/12 6:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino urged Congress to pass the sin tax reform measure and a new law that will impose more taxes on the mining industry.
In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Aquino said the government will use the revenues from sin tax reform, which raises taxes on cigarettes and liquor, for universal health care.

"We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill—which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products—can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health," he said.

The sin tax reform bill is one of the Aquino administration's priority measures, which has been certified as urgent.

The House of Representatives has already approved the bill, which sets a two-tier system for tobacco products and three-tier system for alcohol products, depending on net retail price. However, the Senate has yet to pass its counterpart measure.

At the same time, Aquino expressed hope Congress will pass a new law that will raise taxes for mining companies, which he made a prerequisite for lifting a moratorium on the approval of new mining contracts.

"Think about it: In 2010, P145 billion was the total value derived from mining, but only P13.4 billion or 9% went to the national treasury. These natural resources are yours; it shouldn’t happen that all that’s left to you is a tip after they’re extracted. We are hoping that Congress will work with us and pass a law that will ensure that the environment is cared for, and that the public and private sectors will receive just benefits from this industry," he said.

Last week, Aquino told ANC the mining tax law is not a priority for the third and final session of the 15th Congress. His statement dashes the hopes of the mining industry for the lifting of the current moratorium on new mining contracts. Executive Order 79 extended a moratorium on the approval of new mining agreements until Congress passes a new revenue-sharing scheme between the government and mining companies.

The government is seeking to raise the government's revenues from mining by increasing the excise tax on mining from the current 2% to a range of 5-7%, as well as include a 5% royalty in future mining contracts and areas to be declared as mineral reservations.


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