By Butch Fernandez, June 4 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

THE Senate, voting 20-0, passed on Monday night a bill raising the “sin” tax on all tobacco products, and providing that revenue collected be used to bankroll the government’s Universal Health Care Program.

Sponsored by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara as Ways and Means Committee chairman, the bill was passed on second and third reading in one sitting, paving the way for convening a conference committee with House counterparts to hammer out a reconciled final version of the revenue bill.

“With 20 affirmative votes, no negative vote, no abstention, Senate Bill 2233 is
approved on third reading,” Senate President Vicente Sotto declared before banging the gavel signifying approval of the remedial legislation seen to affect workers in the tobacco industry even as it is awaited by advocates of the anti-smoking ban.

The upward rate adjustments start at P45 in 2020—an increase of P10 in the first year of implementation—to be followed by a series of annual P5 increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023.

As approved, the measure mandates that part of the higher tobacco excise tax collection be set aside for health care.