'Lifesaving': Salceda lauds signing of sin tax bill into law

'Lifesaving': Salceda lauds signing of sin tax bill into law

MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Thursday commended the signing into law of the bill that would impose additional excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and e-cigarettes.

Salceda, chair of the House committee on ways and means, said the signing of the law on additional excise tax would promote healthier consumption of products, thus, saving thousands of lives in the process.

Also, Salceda said the law would provide supplementary funding to the government’s universal health care program.

Citing 2016 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Salceda said 4,431 per 100,000 population of Filipinos died from liver cirrhosis; 16,418 from hypertensive diseases; and 8,526 from tuberculosis.

These deaths, the lawmaker said, are all linked to excessive use of alcohol.

“Alcoholism is linked with about 40 main diseases, including liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatic disease, hypertensive disease, tuberculosis, diabetes, and mental diseases,” Salceda said in a statement.

“Surely, any move that reduces average national consumption is good news,” he added.

The lawmaker also took note of alcohol’s contribution to road crashes in the country.

“Alcohol alone accounts for as many as 10,372 road crashes every year. Based on anecdotal evidence from the PGH, the number is probably bigger, as they claim that about 50 percent of all vehicular accident cases that they treat have some alcohol involved,” he added.

Moreover, Salceda welcomed the excise tax increase for e-cigarettes.

“Precautionary principle dictates that we should have taxed it higher and regulated it more closely the first time we taxed it because it was a new product with little clinical examination. As soon as I became Chair, I moved to correct the problem. I’m glad President Duterte fully agrees.” he said.

Economic costs

Salceda said preliminary estimates from the Department of Finance (DOF) show that alcohol may have an economic cost of as much as 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) every year.

“My own estimates come somewhere closer to 2.0 percent of GDP when you account for lost productivity on those who did not use alcohol but were somehow harmed by someone who was under the influence of alcohol,” Salceda said.

“If you could recover all of that, theoretically we could be growing by 8 to 9 percent every year, not to mention we would be healthier,” he added.

Salceda said that while there will be an increase in the cost of alcohol products, the country’s ASEAN ranking on the cheapness of alcohol remains the same.

“And the more the average Filipino earns in the next few years, the more affordable alcohol will become,” he pointed out.

Edited by KGA
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