Milk and 3-in-1 coffee are excluded from the proposed excise tax on sweetened beverages under the version that the Senate panel reported out last week.
Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee, said the committee finds it unjustifiable to tax milk – given its nutritional value – the same way as softdrinks and other unhealthy sweetened beverages.
Thus, under Senate Bill 1592, it is made clear that plain milk, infant formula milk, and growing up milk are excluded, as well as powdered, ready to drink, flavored and fermented milk with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml.
Based on the data by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, chronic malnutrition among Filipino children under 5 years old has increased to 33.5% in 2015 from 30.5% in 2013.
To address this, the Senate version allocated the incremental revenues from sweetened beverage tax to fund the expansion of school-based and community-based feeding programs for children and adults in areas with high hunger incidence, as well as provision of water fountains in all public schools in the country.
“Sadyang nakakaalarma na isa sa tatlong bata ay nagdaranas ng matinding malnutrisyon na may negatibong epekto sa kanilang paglaki at pag-develop. Kailangang palawakin ang feeding programs ng gobyerno para mas marami ang mabigyan ng mas masusustansyang pagkain na tutulong sa kanilang kalusugan,” the veteran legislator said.
SB 1592 likewise excludes 3-in-1 coffee from the proposed excise tax.
Based on the 2013 Food Consumption Survey of the FNRI, coffee is the 7th most consumed food item of Filipinos. A Kantar survey also showed that 90% of consumers of 3-in-1 coffee are low-income earners.
“Pampagising ito ng mga ordinaryong manggagawa para sila ay makapaghanapbuhay dahil nakakadagdag sigla daw ito sa kanilang katawan,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
Under the earmarking provision, revenues from the sweetened beverage tax would also go to health programs to address obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases; and provision of dialysis ward or unit in all national, regional, and provincial government hospitals.