Retailers seek lower excise taxes on sugared beverages, salty foods

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THE Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) is pushing for lower excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and salt content of foods in both chambers of Congress, noting higher taxes can jack up prices to reduce consumer demand and sales for products.

In an interview, PRA President Paul Santos said the two proposed measures to slap higher excise taxes on these products will have an impact on the retail business in the country.

Under Section 150-A of House Bill 5636 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, sugar sweetened beverages will be slapped excise tax of P10 per liter of volume capacity.

Santos pointed out that the imposition of P10 per liter tariff on sugared beverages is “a bit high” considering there is one country slapping a similar tax equivalent to peso value of only P3 per liter.

“As retailers, we will nearly pass on the excise to our consumers but we expect that the demand for sugared products will drop and (also) our sales of these products. That’s because consumers will now be made to pay the excise tax,” he said.

Santos hoped that Congress will reduce the tariff to “something consumers can afford to pay.”

Meanwhile, the PRA head said the other measure pending for House of Representatives action is the so-called tax on salt content of foods, which he considered also “quite high”.

House Bill No. 3719, introduced by Masbate Representative Scott Davies Lanete, proposes a tax of P1 per milligram of sodium in excess of one third of the allowable daily intake as prescribed by the Department of Health.

“If that bill is passed as is, it will certainly reduce demand for these kinds of foods because the cost will just be too prohibitive. And for retailers, we will also be affected because our sales of these products will decrease as well,” Santos added. Leslie D. Venzon/PNA

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