The proposal of boxing icon Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao to raise excise tax on cigarettes by 100 percent will deliver the knock-out punch on Filipino tobacco growers.
“Why is tobacco being targeted again? Tobacco excise taxes contributed around R100 billion in 2015, up from R32 billion in 2012. The tobacco sector is giving more than our fair share of the tax revenues for the government,’’ Saturnino Distor, president of Philtobacco Growers Association Inc., said.
The association said it is saddened by Pacquiao’s measure, adding that it is also alarmed by the impact of the measure on tobacco farmers still struggling from the loss of income as a consequence of the Sin Tax Law of 2013.
“We have barely gotten back on our feet from that blow,’’ it added.
Distor said tobacco farmers are still struggling with falls in demand for tobacco because of the huge 340 percent excise tax increases introduced in 2013, with an average annual increase of 20 percent or more even worsening the situation.
“With these huge increases, tobacco production has fallen from 68 million kilos in 2013 to 52 million kilos in 2015 according to the National Tobacco Administration (NTA),’’ he added.
Earlier, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines headed by former Labor Secretary Ruben Torres wrote Sen. Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, asking him “to hear the silent voices of our tobacco farm workers.’’ (Mario B. Casayuran)