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Higher taxes on alcohol products, e-cigarettes hurdle House on second reading

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The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a proposed legislation that seeks to impose additional taxes on alcohol products and e-cigarettes.

Through a viva voce voting, only House Committee on Constitutional Amendment chair and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez opposed House Bill No. 1026 that raises taxes for alcoholic beverages from the current rate of P25 to P28 per liter to P40 per liter.

Prior to its approval, Deputy Majority Floor Leader Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc moved for the inclusion of several amendments in the bill, including the additional excise taxes on heated tobacco products, e-cigarettes and other vapor products.

Under the new provisions, selling of heated tobacco and vapor products at price lower than the combined excise and value-added taxes imposed under the proposal shall be prohibited.

Rodriguez opposed the new provisions introduced by the rules panel since “this kind of substitution, has extraneous, (and) has rider provisions.”

Rodriguez stressed that it was agreed by the Ways and Means panel under Albay Rep. Joey Salceda “that the subject of the bill that was approved in that particular ways and means is only on alcohol.”

House Bill 1026 authored by Salceda was immediately moved for the approval in the committee level after the Albay solon ivoked Section 48 of the House Rules.

Section 48 rule allows a legislation approved by preceding Congress to be fast tracked.

“In case of bills resolutions that are identified as priority measures of the House, which were previously filed in the immediate preceding Congress and have been approved on third and final reading, the same may be disposed as of matters already reported upon the approvalof the majority of the members of the committee present,” the rule read.

Salceda’s HB1026 prior to the latest amendments is the same version approved by the 17th Congress on final reading under the Arroyo Speakership but failed to hurdle in the Senate.

The bill is one of the priority legislations mentioned by President Rodrigo Duterte during fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month.

The Department of Finance has estimated that government earnings from fermented liquor, or beer, is estimated to reach P24.7 billion under the proposal which the DOF crafted with the Department of Health; alcopops, P400 million; distilled spirits, P9.2 billion; wines, P40 million; and e-cigarettes, P3.2 billion.

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