SOCIOECONOMIC PLANNING Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that sin taxes on alcohol, tobacco products, and sweetened beverages helped fund the Universal Health Care (UHC) program, softening the impact of the pandemic.

At the 75th World Health Assembly on Tuesday, Mr. Chua said that these taxes introduced under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law of 2018, which raised the taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, and a later tax on e-cigarettes, helped fund the UHC Law.

Mr. Chua said that these tax measures ensured better access to healthcare services, with the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program allowing the government to raise funds for its pandemic response, including obtaining vaccines and financing health and social service.

“Under the Duterte administration, the Philippine government pursued the CTRP to make our tax system simpler, fairer, and more efficient,” Mr. Chua said.

“Our experience has highlighted the strong interplay between fiscal policies and social interventions. We fought hard to enact these game-changing tax reforms, and now we are seeing their benefits. We remain confident that the bold policies we have instituted over the past six years will further drive our economy forward and help improve the lives of the people,” Mr. Chua said.

The Universal Health Care Law was signed on Feb. 20, 2019. The law covers all Filipino citizens, and aims to grant them access to “preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care for medical, dental, mental, and emergency health services.”

The Department of Finance on Wednesday urged the incoming administration to impose new tax measures in order to raise revenue to help reduce the national debt. — Tobias Jared Tomas