One problem with online sales, though, is that such products, which are delivered to customers’ homes, could be sold to minors. Thus, the Department of Finance (DoF) is considering to stop or ban the sale of sin products on digital marketplaces.
For its part, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the DoF’s proposed ban because if sellers are not registered, it would not have the profiles of their buyers and, thus, would have no way of knowing if the buyer is a minor or not. If sellers are not registered, there is no guarantee that the products sold comply with existing product standards. In other words, from the DTI’s perspective, online sales may continue, provided that sellers are registered and comply with certain requirements.
An absolute ban on sales of alcohol online would further contribute to the reduction in sin taxes, which, as mentioned earlier, have plunged by almost 100 percent. Moreover, it may lead to the illicit trade of alcohol products.
During a pandemic, health care and people’s access to good medical and health care facilities are essential. Republic Act (RA) 10351, or the “Sin Tax Law of 2012,” aimed to provide funds for the universal health care program of the government by allocating 85 percent from collections of such taxes to universal health care under the National Health Insurance Program.
RA 11467 amended the Tax Code to provide that 60 percent of sin tax collections shall be allocated to the implementation of RA 11223, or the “Universal Health Care Act of 2019.”
The decrease in the consumption and production of sin products definitely led to the plunge in sin tax collections and, consequently, funding for our universal health care program.
Thus, the government should compensate for the shortfall through other means, like the proper implementation of the measures it is empowered to undertake and the proper disbursement of emergency funds that it is now able to access due to the declaration of a state of national emergency under RA 11469, or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.”
The pandemic definitely highlighted the need for our country to have good health care facilities and provide a good health care program for our people. When the provision of health care services was devolved to local governments pursuant to the Local Government Code, local health care was left to the mercy of local politicians. Salaries of local health workers became pegged at or based on the category of the municipality or city. This is one of the primary reasons our doctors are not being paid well, leading to their exodus from the country.
It is time — extremely overdue, in fact — that our government focus on reviewing our health care system and structure and properly funding it.
In any case, let’s continue to keep safe