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Relax lang: Milk, 3-in-1 coffee excluded from Senate sugar tax bill – Angara

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Under the Senate version of the proposed tax reform program, milk, including those for infants and those so-called 3-in-1 instant coffees, are sought to be excluded from new taxes.

Sen. Sonny Angara on Sunday said his committee on ways and means find it unjustifiable to tax milk, given its nutritional value and some of the most-consumed food items of Filipinos, that includes instant coffees as well as softdrinks.

“Pampagising ito ng mga ordinaryong manggagawa para sila ay makapaghanapbuhay dahil nakakadagdag sigla daw ito sa kanilang katawan,” Angara said, referring to results of Kantar survey showing that 90% of consumers of 3-in-1 coffee are low-income earners.

Coffee, based on the 2013 Food Consumption Survey of Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), is the seventh most consumed food item of Filipinos.

The FNRI study also showed that chronic malnutrition among Filipino children aged five and below has increased from 30.5% in 2013 to 33.5% in 2015.

The committee deemed it best to exclude 3-in-1 coffee, plain milk, infant formula milk, growing up milk, fermented milk, powered, flavoured and ready to drink beverages from the proposed sweetened beverage taxes.

In the version of the House of Representatives, they propose to impose P10 per liter for local suger and P20 per liter for others.

This two-tiered proposal would violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rule that bars the taxing of imported products at higher rates to favor domestic products, Angara noted.

Thus, in the Senate version, it lowered the rate to P5 per liter in the first two years of implementation.

In his explanation on this, during his sponsorship of his committee report, imposing excise tax based on sugar content, rather than per liter would be more reasonable and more effective in encouraging Filipinos to consume healthier drinks and curbing the prevalence of diabetes and obesity.

“It is also what is being practiced by some other countries,” he said.