By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing is hoping that the House leadership would immediately calendar for plenary debates and approval the bill seeking to impose P20 excise tax for every kilo of plastic used for packaging when Congress resumes its sessions on January 20, 2020.
The vice-chairperson of the House Committee on Ways and Means said they expect that the plenary deliberations will be scheduled next year.
“We are still consolidating all amendments in the committee level,” Suansing, one of the principal authors of the bill, said.
“We are eyeing the plenary deliberations of the bill when we resume session,” she said.
On December 10, 2019, the House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, unanimously passed House Bill No. 178 with amendments. The bill seeks to impose P20 excise tax for every kilo of plastic used for packaging, excluding sachets.
Joining Suansing in filing HB 178 is her husband, Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing Jr.
Suansing expressed hope that her colleagues would support her pro-environment measure.
She said it is about time for the country to aggressively address the alarming plastic pollution, citing that every day, almost 48 million shopping bags are used throughout the country.
The House leader noted that neighboring countries, including Hongkong, Indonesia, and Cambodia imposed heavy tax on single-use plastic bag per piece.
The Salceda panel decided to increase the proposed excise tax to P20 from P10 for every kilo of plastic used for packaging, after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) sought the imposition of heavy tax against the use of plastics.
HB 178 originally sought 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.
“We will tax anything that is used for packaging,” Salceda said.
He explained that under the bill, the specific excise tax imposed shall “be collected upon removal from factory.”
The House leader said the proposed imposition of P20 excise tax for every kilo of plastics used for packaging would generate P4.8 billion in revenues for the government.
“This will generate P4.8 billion in revenues during the first year of implementation,” he said.
During the December 10 panel deliberation, it was disclosed that the daily plastic consumption in the country is pegged at 96 million.
The Salceda panel also agreed to allocate 100 percent of the revenues to the Solid Waste Management Fund.
“One-hundred percent of the revenues shall be earmarked for solid waste management and implementation of Republic Act 9003 [the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000],” Salceda said.
Benjamin Chua, who represents the 150 companies producing plastic bags in the country, opposed the tax measure.
“Unless there is a better alternative to plastics, we don’t think there is a need to slap a levy on it. If ever there is a levy, we think it is discriminatory,” he said, adding that even other packaging options should be taxed.
“Plastic is not evil,” Chua said.
Salceda assured Chua that “not a single peso of your profit will be affected because you will pass it on to the consumers.”