House leader wants 'sin tax' income used for flood control-A A +A
Friday, August 10, 2012
A RANKING leader of the House of Representatives proposed on Friday that a fraction of the P30-billion projected income from "sin taxes" be set aside for flood control projects of the government.
House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III said this after the southwest monsoon caused heavy flooding in Metro Manila and nearby provinces early this week.
Tañada said Congress, which holds the authority to approve the proposed national budget, should consider tapping other sources of revenue as Malacanang is only seeking a P5.2-billion increase for next year's flood control budget.
In total, the government is proposing a P17.5 billion budget for flood control.
"I would suggest that a fraction of the P30 billion projected income from the sin tax bill be earmarked for flood control. It can be justified as dividends of the gin-drinking, cigarette -smoking people in flood-prone communities," Tañada said.
The House of Representatives already approved proposals to increase taxes on cigarettes and liquor after President Benigno Aquino III himself certified the bills as urgent. The counterpart sin tax bill in the Senate, however, is still pending in the committee level.
"This can be a one-time provision, good for one or a couple of fiscal years. After which, whatever funds given to flood control from liquor and tobacco taxes will go back to universal health care. In short, we’re just building a diversionary canal that will channel part of the stream from sin taxes to flood control," Tañada said.
The House leader is proposing to increase the flood control budget for next year to P25 billion.
Aside from sin taxes, Tañada said Congress can also do "minor tweaking" by sourcing funds from the Unprogrammed Fund, the traditional source of presidential stand-by spending authority, which has been allocated P117.6 billion for 2013.
Another possible source is the P22.4 billion Priority Social and Economic Projects Fund, a new feature of the budget, which Tañada described "as some sort of a 'holding area' for funds for projects details of which have yet to be fleshed out by agencies."
Based on the proposed budget, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is given P12.1 billion for "flood control and drainage projects," P3.5 billion in "foreign-assisted flood control projects," P425 million for flood control right-of-way, P200 million for "rain collectors," and P300 million for “other flood control projects."
Apart from the DPWH, other agencies getting flood control funds next year are the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council (P317 million), the Department of Agrarian Reform (P10 million), and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (P4 million). (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)