Sugar leaders ask 6-year moratorium on excise tax

Friday, September 08, 2017

SUGAR industry leaders in Negros Occidental are seeking a six-year moratorium on the imposition of excise tax on sugar sweetened drinks.

This was announced by former vice governor Emilio Yulo III, spokesperson of Sugar Alliance of the Philippines, during the “Sugar and More” Negros Summit held Thursday, September 7, at the Sugarland Hotel in Bacolod City.

Yulo, who also represented Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in the gathering, said the committee report on the tax reform package will be released in the next few weeks.

He said the sugar industry will be one of those that will be “heavily affected” by the proposed tax reform.

Yulo said they are hoping that the sugar sector and stakeholders will be able to send resolutions asking for a six-year moratorium.

He said the excise tax will impact the sugar industry “twice” as the bill also included excise tax on diesel.

“The cost production will go up. If the diesel goes up, the basic commodities will also go up. It will affect the cost of labor…its effect will have lower demand for domestic sugar,” Yulo pointed out.

He said their main contention is that it’s useless for the government to help the sugar industry with the P2-billion allocation from the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (Sida) when it will be imposing taxes that will kill the industry.

He added that the national government should allow the Sida to work first before imposing the tax.

The Comprehensive Tax Reform bill was already passed by the House of Representatives.

Under the tax reform package, the excise tax on sweetened beverages using locally produced sugar will be P10 per liter while those using high fructose corn syrup will be taxed P20 per liter.

He said they are hoping “they would (senators) be able to make known our sentiments.”

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, for his part, said the P10 per liter excise tax on locally produced sugar is “immovable” as it was insisted by the Department of Finance, which is why the lawmakers moved for higher tax on imported sweetener.

He said the tax reform bill will have “very rough sailing” in the Senate.