Alcohol and tobacco taxes help the government of the Philippines to partly fund the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program in the country. Alcohol and tobacco taxes have been instrumental in delivering health and social services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis.
As Movendi International reported previously, in a landmark move the President of the Philippines planned to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes to partly fund universal health coverage (UHC) – a program to ensure health for all. But the government was short of funds for its UHC program in the first year after its adoption in 2019. To cover this gap the government brought in an increase in tobacco and alcohol taxes.
The wine lobby rallied against the proposed alcohol tax increase in 2019 to fund the health for all program. But finally, the tax raise was adopted in the end of 2019.
The government estimates to raise P25 billion (about $500 million) from alcohol and e-cigarette taxes and P16 billion (about $320 million) from tobacco taxes.
The tax revenues will accelerate the UHC goal of the country. Health for all is within reach, thanks to alcohol and tobacco taxation.
Alcohol, tobacco taxes, the UHC program and its impact during the COVID-19 pandemic
Three laws came into force to increase taxes on health harmful products and fund the UHC program in the Philippines.
- The Universal Health Care (UHC) Act passed in 2019 and provides for enrolling of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program and requires a more robust system of primary-care providers.
- The Tobacco Tax Law 2019 raised the cigarette tax to P45 in 2020 with an annual increase of P5.00 until it reaches P60.00 per pack ($1.30) in 2023, and a 5% annual increase thereafter.
- The Republic Act 11467 raised excise taxes on alcohol and the newly added e-cigarettes.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has stated that the increased taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and sugar-sweetened beverages – which were used for the UHC program – have given Filipinos more comprehensive healthcare services amidst the global health and economic crisis.
Some of the services secured through the UHC program during the COVID-19 pandemic were disbursing emergency cash aids, procuring COVID-19 vaccines, and investing in health and social services.
NEDA’s efforts to reform taxes on health harmful products go back to the previous administration. Through the Republic Act No. 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012, the Philippine government restructured the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products. These efforts were continued under President Duterte’s administration. The government implemented higher taxes on tobacco products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law. This was the first package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP). When these tax hikes proved insufficient the government followed up with Package 2+ which further increased taxes on tobacco and alcohol products and introduced a new tax on e-cigarettes.
We remain confident that the bold policies we have instituted over the past six years will further drive our economy forward and help improve the lives of the people,” said Karl Kendrick Chua, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, and NEDA Director-General, as per Big News Network.Karl Kendrick Chua, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, and NEDA Director-General
Alcohol-free elections in the Philippines
The Philippine government has proven that they are committed to prioritizing action on alcohol in the public interest to uplift public health and ensure public safety.
The country held local and national elections recently on May 8 to 9, 2022. To ensure safe election proceedings the government decided to maintain the two days as alcohol-free. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) released Resolution No. 10746 imposing the prohibition on selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving, or taking intoxicating liquor during May 8 and 9, 2022.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) reminded restaurants, bars, and other establishment owners to avoid displaying alcohol products in their stores to stop people from consuming alcohol in public.
We just want to maintain our peace and order in every community,” said Lt. Gen. Vicente D Danao Jr, PNP Chief Officer-in-Charge/Security Task Force Commander, as per Big News Network.
Let us exercise the freedom of expression and right to suffrage in a calm and sacred manner.”Lt. Gen. Vicente D Danao Jr, PNP Chief Officer-in-Charge/Security Task Force Commander
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