Health Services to Finally Get Overdue Funding from Sin Taxes

After a four-year delay, health services will finally get a much-needed P60-plus-million boost in “sin tax” remittances, after government economic managers agreed to expedite the release of the funds. 

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, said this means between P30 to 50 million each for the Health Department and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC).

“The P60 million is just for three years. The implementation of this funding will expire in January 2010, yet the Health Department has not received its share. But the P60 million does not include 2009 and 2010, so that could easily be P50 million each for DOH and PHIC. It’s a big deal for health services,” he said after a hearing on the matter.

At the hearing, representatives from the Department of Finance and Bureau of Internal Revenue agreed to expedite the formulation of implementing rules and regulations for Republic Act 9334.

Earlier, Lacson filed Senate Resolution 826, noting Republic Act 9334, the law on excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, had earmarked increased revenues for health services.

Sin tax revenues for PHIC would have gone to the National Health Insurance Program while revenues for the health department will go to a trust fund for the DOH’s disease prevention program. But Lacson lamented bureaucracy and conflicts in computing the funds due the DOH and PHIC from the “sin taxes” prevented health services from getting overdue funding from the sin taxes.

“Paragraph C, Section 7 of RA 9334 provides that 2.5 percent of the incremental revenues from excise taxes on sin products be allocated each to the PHIC and the DOH,” he said in his resolution.

Yet, he lamented that four years since the law was passed, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “had not released a single centavo” to the Health Department.

At the hearing of the committee Tuesday, DOH representatives said they had been preparing to use the funds as early as 2005. They said the funds would go to items like breastfeeding and prevention of non-communicable diseases.