MANILA – The government needs to exercise fiscal responsibility to ensure that measures are in place to fund investments in infrastructure, education and health care, among others, a finance official said Wednesday.
Sin tax reform, which seeks to raise excise taxes for alcoholic beverages and tobacco, will help cover the funding gap for the Universal Health Care (UHC) law that will be fully implemented by 2020, Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino told DZMM radio.
"We really need to exercise fiscal responsibility. As we invest more and more in education, health care and our infrastructure program, all of those things, we should also make sure that we put in place 'yung mga mechanisms para mabayaran ito, kasama na po doon ang sin tax reform (the mechanisms to pay for it, including sin tax reform),” Lambino said.
The UHC, he said, has a P62-billion funding gap for its first year of implementation. By the 5th year, the gap could reach P109 billion. The staggered sin tax hike is meant to cover the growing costs, he said.
“Kasi po lumalaki 'yung costs over time. Ang proposed cost of sin taxes ay lumalaki rin so maco-cover naman natin ang malaking portion ng funding gap,” he said.
(Costs grow over time. But the proposed cost of sin taxes also grow to cover the portion of the funding gap)
“We want to cover more medicine, we want to cover the larger part of cost of medicine at gusto rin natin (and we also want) unlimited conditions sa (in) primary care,” he added.