Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Rep. Beltran's position on sin taxes

PGMA wooing private sector's support for her tax bills including the sin
taxes by promising errant corporations and tax evaders tax amnesty


Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran's position on sin taxes
October 27, 2004

1. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's private dinner meeting with Lucio Tan
recently should be considered top-level lobbying, and is only the start of the
President's campaign to gain the private sector's support for her various tax
proposals, and in the case of Lucio Tan, his support for the sin taxes.

In truth, the private sector has no real problem with the tax proposals because
once approved and implemented, they will only pass the taxes on to consumers
via increases in the product prices and related services.

2. Pres. Arroyo will clearly stop at nothing to get the approval for her tax
measures to save her corruption-ridden and financially floundering
administration. Her meeting with the likes of Tan who still carries much clout
in the country's business community marks the beginning of more compromises
with big business, and these compromises will be no doubt at the expense of
consumers, taxpayers, and the entire Filipino people. In exchange for the
support to her new tax measures, President Arroyo has dangled tax amnesty for
big businesses.

3.Tan and the other big business tycoon Pres. Arroyo is keen on courting for her
tax bills are certain to demand amnesties for themselves, as well as other perks
from the government. The administration will turn a blind eye to their corporate
malpractices and abuses in exchange for their support for the tax bills such as
the sin taxes."

4. Our opposition to the new tobacco and alcohol taxes was not so much because
we are opposed to taxing alcohol and tobacco products. These corporations
producing and marketing tobacco and alcohol are peddlers of disease and death,
and we by no means support their businesses, neither do we want to support
alcohol and tobacco users in their vice. We are opposing the sin taxes,
however, because we are certain of what the business monopolies will be getting
in return for their support for the tax measures.

The national government should promote a campaign against smoking and drinking.
By all means, allocations for health services and health education should be
increased to promote awareness of the evils of smoking and drinking. But
imposing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes per se will not really discourage
drinkers and smokers.

It's a quid pro quo deal. GMA will get her tax measures passed - among them the
sin taxes -- the business monopolies who are notorious for not paying their
taxes will get tax amnesty. In short, more taxes for the poor, amnesty for the
rich.

From 1998-2001 alone, the government has lost P85.4 billion annually because of
tax evasion. These delinquent corporations are being left off the hook while
wage and salary workers are not being treated with leniency and in fact will be
subjected to higher taxes.

5. In principle, it is an outrage that the government is burdening the public
with higher taxes when it continues to provide billions in tax exemption
privileges for foreign multinational and transnational corporations in the
country.

Millions of revenues are being lost from the fiscal incentives - outright tax
exemptions, income tax holidays, tax credits and reduced taxes for firms and
industries. The national government itself says that all these incentives are
worth at least P741B in the last five years, and P175B for the year 2003 alone.
The biggest beneficiaries of these exemptions are the tax and duty exemptions
(P152B) and income tax holidays (P5B) granted to export processing zones.

Instead of taxing tobacco and alcohol the government should slash the
incentives it showers so generously on foreign corporations who, in turn, suck
the economy dry by killing local businesses and manipulate product prices at
whim to ensure their superprofit-returns.#


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