By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri recently proposed a three-tiered tax on sugar-sweetened beverage during the Committee on Ways and Means hearing on the comprehensive tax reform package dubbed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).
“We want to earn government revenue through the sugar tax, but we don’t want to kill the industry,” Zubiri stressed.
The senator said he believes his proposal hits the “sweet spot,” wherein the taxation method and tax rates can address important concerns such as government’s need for revenue and to stop the rising cases of diabetes and obesity, which are among the many health issues related to the excessive consumption of sugar.
“I also believe the tax rates to be adopted should also push my advocacy for the avoidance of cancer-causing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS),” he added.
However, the senator stated a tax rate that will make sugar, along with food and beverage items containing sugar, very expensive should not be implemented.
“If we tax it too steeply, people may not be able to afford it because of the high price,” Zubiri said.
He warned, an excessively high sugar tax could potentially lead to the collapse of the sugar industry, which would displace hundreds of thousands of farmers and mill workers, and lead to hunger for at least five million Filipinos heavily dependent on the sugar industry./WDJ