A woman shops for snacks at a supermarket in Quezon City, Jan. 16, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

PROPOSALS to tax junk food as well as raise the current tax on sweetened beverages are not feasible, a senior legislator said.

“On a junk food tax, I don’t see a way of implementing it,” Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda said during a forum organized by the Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc. in Taguig City on Wednesday.

Mr. Salceda, who also chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, called the proposal on the junk food tax is “not enforceable.”

“We have enough studies on it. We dove into it and we found out that we cannot do it. This junk food (tax) should be junked because it is not enforceable,” Mr. Salceda told reporters when asked for additional comment.

“How do we implement it in the factory? By (inventory) removals? At retail? At point of sale? The cost of enforcement is much higher than the revenue increments,” he added.

Mr. Salceda also said that the proposed higher taxes on sweetened beverages will not help reduce obesity.

“The sugary drinks tax would produce more malnutrition (while not) reducing obesity,” Mr. Salceda said.

“In simple language, we now have the highest tax on sugar in the world at P6. Mexico’s is the equivalent of P3. Their obesity (rate) was 76%, and reduced to 67%. The Philippines’ obesity (rate) is 22% … we don’t have an obesity problem,” he added.

Mr. Salceda said he has yet to receive a copy of the tax proposal from the Department of Finance (DoF).

“The (DoF) did not even give me a copy of their proposal. I should’ve filed it already,” Mr. Salceda said.

“My question first is the enforceability, second is the fundamental soundness. What are you trying to cure? Where is the link?” he added.  

The DoF in June proposed to impose a tax on junk food and increase the tax on sweetened beverages, citing high obesity rates. It estimated that the combined measures could generate P76 billion worth of revenue in the first year of implementation.  

The proposal calls for a P10 tax per 100 grams or a P10 tax per 100 milliliters on packaged foods that lack nutritional value and go beyond the Department of Health’s specified thresholds for fat, salt, and sugar content. These products include confectioneries, snacks, desserts, and frozen products.    

The proposal also seeks a sweetened beverage tax of P12 per liter for any kind of sweetener, from the current P6 per liter.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said last week that he does not expect the junk food tax proposal to pass this year since it has no sponsor at the Senate and the House of Representatives. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave