Senate votes 8-7 vs. reducing taxes on HFCS

The Senate last night voted - with eight against and seven in favor, on a proposal to reduce taxes on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Voting against the amendment proposed by Sen. Ralph Recto that would put the HFCS “in parity with sugar”, were Senators Miguel Zubiri, Edgardo Angara Jr., Jose Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Joel Villanueva and Riza Hontiveros.

Zubiri said it was a “close call and we nearly lost it.”

He pointed out that the Recto amendment is geared to remove HFCS from the list with a high taxation in “equal footing with sugar.”

“If we do that the sugar industry will die with imported HFCS so cheap, and if you bring it with the same taxes as local sugar all will shift to it. That will spell the nail on the coffin of the sugar industry,” he pointed out.

Zubiri said he “is thankful to his colleagues who voted in retaining the taxes on HFCS which is double that of sugar.”

He also lauded Angara, chair of the Committee on Ways and Means “who stood steadfast for the sugar industry.”

“The plan to tax it by gram instead of by volume did not push through as the motions got lost,” Zubiri said.

He added that right now taxes on sugar stays at P5, P5 sweetener tax and P10 on HFCS.

“It will not be per liter and by volume, it will become a direct sugar tax,” he also said.

“But the fight is not over yet until the end of the period of amendments. That is why I am standing guard here until this is all over to protect the interest of the sugar industry and the sugar farmers,” Zubiri said.

The Senate will still continue to tackle the amendments and pass it on second reading, he said.* (NDB)