See advantages of Sin Tax Law, NTA official tells tobacco farmers

BANGUED, Abra, Jan. 14 (PIA) — Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) assured the tobacco farmers and local chief executives of the province that the NTA will look into the welfare of tobacco farmers with the recent implementation of the Sin Tax Law.

“Let us see the advantages of the law and recognize it as a health measure,” he urged the farmers who aired their apprehensions on the law which they say is a threat to the tobacco industry.

“Through the Sin Tax Law, we reach a level of investment grade/rating that will strengthen our economy and we will not allow the tobacco farmers to be adversely affected by the law,” said Zagagoza, who visited the province to conduct consultation/dialogue regarding the Republic Act No. 10351 otherwise known as the Sin Tax Reform Law.

The Sin Tax Reform Law was signed by President Benigno Aquino III on December 20, 2012, and took effect January 1, 2013.

The law imposes higher taxes on cigarette and alcohol products for the next five years. It aims to restructure the existing taxes imposed on alcohol and tobacco goods which are a potential revenue source that will help fund the Universal Health Care Program of government, and to discourage people from engaging in vices.

Zaragoza likewise assured the local chief executives of the releases of their share in the RA 7171 funds earlier than usual and more funds will be given to them this time because of the increase in the sin tax collections.

The occasion was also an opportunity for the NTA-Abra Branch headed by Esmeralda G. Valera to award the checks to the tobacco farmers for their production assistance.

In an interview with Valera, she reported that 399 farmers cultivating around 217 hectares were already given the production assistance funds such as irrigation support with more than P7 million, and the Tobacco Contract Growing System (TCGS) with more than P8 million. The irrigation support comes in the form of water pumps and water hose while the TCGS come in the form of various farm tools and implements such as sprayers and farm inputs.

The multi-purpose curing barn repair (MPCB), on the other hand, costs P100,000 per unit, and there are only around 100 beneficiaries.

The number of scholars increased from 10 of last year to 20 for this year 2013. The scholars are given P3,000 for tuition fees and other legitimate school fees plus an allowance of P2,800 for four months or P700 per month per semester. (Maria Teresa B. Benas,-PIA CAR, Abra)