MANILA – Instant noodles are excluded from the proposed tax on salty foods, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.
"If you're thinking of the noodles, that's really salty, 60 percent sodium. It will not be covered. That's really for the poor," Diokno said in his weekly press chat.
Last week, Diokno announced that the DOF and the Department of Health (DOH) are jointly pursuing a junk food and sweetened beverage tax as a proactive measure to tackle diabetes, obesity, and non-communicable diseases related to poor diet.
Under the proposed tax program, the DOF plans to impose a PHP10 per 100 grams or PHP10 per 100 milliliters tax on pre-packaged foods lacking nutritional value, including confectioneries, snacks, desserts, and frozen confectioneries, that exceed the DOH's specified thresholds for fat, salt, and sugar content.
The DOF also intends to increase the sweetened beverage tax rate under the TRAIN law to PHP12 per liter, regardless of the type of sweetener used.
This tax rate will be indexed annually by 4 percent, and exemptions will be eliminated to broaden the tax base.
Diokno explained that the proposal is both a health and revenue measure.
"It’s both. A health measure, there will be a big impact in the long run. We are consulting with the National Nutrition Council and DOH. We will continue to consult. What we’ve released is still not [firmed up]," Diokno said.
Diokno said the proposal to tax junk foods and increase the sweetened beverage tax would help broaden the tax base and raise more taxes.
"The incremental revenues from this tax package will fund important socio-economic programs initiated by the Marcos administration, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development's food stamp program. This program will provide support to 1 million food-poor households, to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition," he said.
He added that they are also anticipating that producers and sellers of sugary products subjected to tax will object as it will raise the selling price in the market.
"But knowing the big difference between the world price and the domestic price of sugar then allowing the industry to import their own sugar requirement would reduce their cost of production. This is the sweetener or incentive for producers of sugary products to accept the broader, simpler tax on sugary products," Diokno said.
The proposal aims to make Filipinos live healthier and longer lives, he added.
"In the long run, it also reduces the costs to the government for providing health care for its people," he said. (PNA)