Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel A. Roxas II said yesterday that he will use the bulk of the yearly tobacco excise tax to improve the physical and financial infrastructure of the tobacco farmers in Northern Luzon.
There are more than 10,000 tobacco farmers in Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Abra and for last year alone, a total of P72.2 billion had been collected and part of it was already released to the local government units of the tobacco-producing areas in the four provinces.
But Roxas said he has two approaches in guiding the tobacco farmers on how to spend the annual tobacco excise tax, one is the short-term solution and the other one is the long-term approach to ensure financial stability for the thousands of tobacco-farming families.
“This (tobacco tax) should go to worthwhile programs for the long-term benefit, not temporary relief, of tobacco farmers. We acknowledge that they (farmers) need some cash assistance, so we will provide them with the necessary help,” said Roxas.
Roxas said that the long-term programs for tobacco farmers include scholarships for children and dependents of farmers, after-harvest facilities like drying machines, and training and education on new tobacco technology.
“These will ensure that our farmers will continue farming and these will provide good profit for them,” said Roxas.
“They work very hard, they sacrifice a lot but they only have little earnings. I will take care of our farmers because those who work very hard should be rewarded with financial growth,” he added.
Under Republic Act 7171 and Republic Act 8240, the government allots a portion of the “sin” taxes, particularly those collected from tobacco products, to tobacco farmers.
RA 7171, entitled “An Act to promote the development of the farmers in the Virginia-tobacco producing provinces” allots 15 percent of the total revenue from products utilizing Virginia-type tobacco to provinces producing the crop.
On the other hand, RA 8240, on the other hand, provides amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code to facilitate the allocation of 15 percent from the total collection of taxes from products using burley and native tobaccos to provinces producing the leaves.
From cigarettes from January to October, 2015, the Bureau of Internal Revenue collected P72.2 billion which is 27.5 percent higher than the P56.7 billion reported a year ago. (Aaron B. Recuenco)