Excise tax on plastic bags to hurt ‘sari-sari’ stores, says group

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Imposing a P20 excise tax on plastic bags will only burden companies, specifically small businesses like sari-sari stores (neighborhood convenience stores) that use the products for their everyday operations, according to an industry group that makes plastic products.

The Philippine Plastics Industry Association (PPIA) said it is strongly opposed to the Plastic Bags Tax bill, which would levy and collect a P20 excise tax for every kilo of locally produced and imported plastic bags.

The House of Representatives has already passed House Bill 9171 on second reading earlier this month, inching closer to becoming a law. One of the proponents, Nueva Ecija First District Rep. Estrellita Suansing, said the tax would allow the government to collect an annual revenue of P4.8 billion.

“The bill encompasses not only us, but all the industry users of plastic bags as primary and secondary packaging, like processed or frozen foods, hygiene and healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical products, and all agricultural and agro-industrial commodities, including products for export, also as the safest, stronger and most hygienic material for transporting goods,” said PPIA president Danny Ngo in a statement.

“The entire domestic retail and microbusinesses [that] use plastic carrier bags and all consumers will shoulder the higher costs. This does not spare even the smallest outlets like sari-sari stores [numbering] over 1.3 million that are mostly located in the impoverished areas,” the group added.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) also earlier voiced their opposition against the bill.

Ngo said it was better to legislate laws that would strengthen recycling, rather than taxing the product.

The Philippines loses $890 million, or around P42 billion, a year “when recyclable plastic products are discarded rather than recycled into valuable materials,” according to a World Bank report.

“We in the industry are one with the government when it comes to saving the environment. For more than four decades, the plastic industry has been recycling waste plastics, but could not fully realize its goals due to gaps in the value chain,” Ngo said.

He said the industry would need the help of the government, groups and consumers to fulfill this goal.


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