By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday started its initial deliberation on a bill imposing excise tax on single-use plastic bags.
Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing insisted that excise tax should be imposed on single-use plastic bags to address the alarming plastic pollution, citing that every day, almost 48 million shopping bags are used throughout the country.
“The mass consumption of plastic in the Philippines further magnifies the flooding problem that Filipinos experience, especially during the typhoon season. To reduce its costly environmental impact, several countries have already imposed taxes on plastic bag,” she said.
During a presentation, she batted for the passage of House Bill 178 which seeks to impose P10 excise tax for every kilo of single-use plastic bag removed from the place of production or released from the customs house.
“By imposing this levy, this bill endeavors to encourage the exploration and utilization of environment-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic bags,” Suansing said.
“Furthermore, this proposed measure aims to generate additional revenues for the government which could be used to finance programs and projects to counter the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the Philippines,” she added.
She explained that under the bill, 50 percent of the revenues shall be allocated to the Solid Waste Management Fund.
The excise tax collection could be tapped by the local government units (LGUs) in setting up recovering facilities at sanitary landfills, Suansing, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means during the previous 17th Congress, said.
Joining Suansing in filing HB 178 is her husband, Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr.
During the hearing, Willy Go, president of the Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) said their volume of production has been reduced by 20 percent as some LGUs already banned the use of plastic.
“Probably, the plastic bag industry will just disappear. So we think no need to legislate this bill as we are already dying,” he told the panel, chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.
He said the proposed imposition of excise tax on single-use plastic bags would impact on the consumers.
“The cost will be higher. The root cause is the lack of discipline. What happened is we are penalizing the product and the consumer bears the impact,” Go said, even as he appealed to lawmakers to carefully study the proposal.
Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PAGASA) said Congress should strike a balance before imposing excise tax on single-use plastic bags.
“There has to be some balance. How would people shop?” he said, maintaining that plastics remain “irreplaceable and useful.”