The House concurred with Senate Bill (SB) 2233 and adopted the same as an amendment to House Bill (HB) 8677.
SB 2233, which was approved on final reading Monday, proposes a staggered increase in the excise tax per cigarette pack from 2020 to 2023.
The measure recommends an increase in excise tax on cigarettes to PHP45 per pack in 2020; PHP50 in 2021; PHP55 in 2021; and PHP60 in 2023, with a 5 percent annual increase thereafter.
On the other hand, HB 8677, approved on third and final reading in December 2018, proposed lower rates of PHP37.50 to PHP45 per pack in 2022, and by 4 percent annually thereafter.
Cigarettes are at present levied PHP35 per pack after Republic Act 10963 increased it to PHP32.50 from PHP30 in January 2018 and to PHP35 beginning July 2018.
It is scheduled to go up to PHP37.50 in January 2020.
The House’s concurrence and adoption of SB 2233 dispenses the need for a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the two versions, thus enabling Congress to immediately transmit the measure to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
The President earlier certified SB 2233 as an urgent measure.
In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Duterte said there is an “urgent need to further protect the health of the people and to maintain a broader fiscal space to support the effective implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.”