By Ellson Quismorio
Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate is opposing the “junk food tax” being proposed by the National Tax Research Center (NTRC), saying it’s very similar to the salty food tax or asin tax.
“In the proposal of the NTRC, the plan is to slap supposed junk foods with 10 to 20 percent excise tax,” said Zarate, a Deputy Minority Leader and member of the militant Makabayan bloc.
“This means that a kwek-kwek that is P20 now would become P22 to 24 with the tax; a banana or camote cue from P15 to P16.50-P18 each; even chicken skin, instant mami and pancit canton, which are a staple of the poor would be increased in price,” he said.
It can be recalled that during the 17th Congress, Bayan Muna strongly objected on the proposed asin tax, which would have imposed an excise tax on processed products with salt.
The bill, which was eventually withdrawn, would jack up the prices of products mostly consumed by poor Filipinos like dried fish, sardines, and noodles. Thus, Zarate described the measure as “patently anti-poor.”
He said the sought junk food tax reads like a reworked version of the asin tax.
“Sa Asin tax, maski end product ang bubuwisan ng P1/mg ng sodium o asin sa produkto, dahil per milligram ang kwentada nila ay napakabigat nito sa mahihirap.Maski ipataw lang ito sa ibabaw ng sodium daily dietary allowance na 500 mg for adults ay papatak na ilandaang piso na ang daing, tuyo, sardinas o noodles at iba pa.”
(Asin tax would have been a huge burden to the poor since the add-on is computed as P1 per milligram of sodium in the end product. If you impose this on top of the sodium daily dietary allowance of 500 mg for adults, then prices for dried fish, salted fish, sardines and noodles will be in the hundreds of pesos),” he said.
“Like the anti-poor asin tax, the junk food tax is being repackaged as a health bill but it would be detrimental to the poor because among its target food to be taxed are food products that poor Filipinos patronizes. As it is this proposed tax is another consumer tax that hits the poor more,” Zarate stressed.
The Makabayan lawmaker said that if the government really wants to increase its revenue, a progressive tax system that taxes the rich more instead of the poor must be implemented.
“A wealth tax is an example of this tax, like a one percent tax on every million an individual or family [running] a corporation owns or something to that effect,” Zarate suggested.
“It is tragically ironic that the government wants to tax the poor more [while] it rushed the passage of the bill in Congress that would lower the income tax rate of corporations and the rich. It is not the sin of the poor that they can only afford poor people’s diet. It is their concrete present abject condition in our country that prevents them from getting healthy food,” he added.
“This proposal is definitely anti-poor and must be opposed, junked, buried and never be resurrected,” concluded Zarate.