MANILA – Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday said he hopes that the Department of Finance will convince the House of Representatives to adopt the higher version of the proposed tobacco tax hike.
Senate Bill No. 2233 proposes a starting rate of P45 in 2020, followed by a series of annual P5 increases until the rate reaches P60 in 2023. The House of Representatives' version seeks to raise it to P45 per pack, to be implemented in tranches until 2022.
“Hopefully maaprubahan din ito ng lower house dahil iba po ang version nila mas mataas ang aming version eh...I'm hoping that they can [DOF] also push the lower house to accept our version,” Zubiri told reporters.
If the bicameral committee agree on one version, it could be up for ratification by Tuesday. Zubiri added that there is a 90 percent chance that the proposed tax hike would be passed before the 17th Congress adjourns.
In a separate interview with DZMM, Finance assistant secretary Tony Lambino appealed to the House of Representatives to adopt the Senate version of the measure.
Lambino said the measure could be passed before the session adjourns as the legislation process is already at the “advance stage.”
Some stakeholders, meanwhile, earlier called for a more "reasonable" sin tax hike. Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon on Tuesday questioned why the proposal is being “rushed” when it can wait until the next Congress.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez urged lawmakers to pass the measure, which is slated to partially fund the Universal Healthcare law, before the session ends.
-- with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News