February 3, 2023

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“Reconsider sin tax law to increase funding for health”

According to a study released by the state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the national government should reconsider the sin tax law to maximize funds allocated to the health sector.

In a discussion paper, PIDS Research Advisors Miharu Jay M. Kimwell, Frances Lois U. Ngo, Vicente Alberto R. Puyat, and George Douglas D. Siton evaluated the performance of the public health appropriations resulting from the earmarking policy of the Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10351).

They said 85 percent of the additional tax revenue from tobacco and alcohol taxes is earmarked for the health sector. But these funds “have not necessarily been used efficiently and fairly”.

“The DOH [Department of Health] should demonstrate its ability and accountability to use its annual budget effectively,” they noted.

The researchers also emphasized that health programs need to be more strategic in the application, allocation, and use of funds to close gaps in benefit coverage.

“With the increase in fiscal space and autonomy in the use of the budget, the monitoring and evaluation of the results achieved through the sin tax revenue allocations must be reported on an ongoing basis,” they added.

Proceeds fund the programs and activities of the DOH and premiums for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

In order to ensure an equitable budget distribution, most of the funds from the sin tax proceeds are used to fund the underprivileged sector’s enrollment in the national health insurance program.

Therefore, according to PIDS, the occurrence of poverty must be consistently included in the criteria and administrative processes when funds are made available for projects and activities.

The authors also stressed the need to reconsider the performance indicators for various health programs and activities so that the goals can “effectively and clearly quantify” the performances and outcomes in terms of achieving universal health coverage and other health programs.