Policy recommendations on tacing and reducing program mismatch and perverse incentives present in earmarking sin tax to tobacco growing areas
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Action for Economic Reforms, Fiscal Policy Team, Philippines
Philippine Competition Commission / University of the Philippines School of Economics, Philippines
Action for Economic Reforms, Industrial Policy Team, Philippines
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A391
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Recognizing that the Philippine 1991 tobacco tax sharing law favoured the development of tobacco, the Sin Tax Law, a separate law on restructuring cigarette tax, expanded the use of such to also cover shifting farmers to viable alternative livelihood. Aside from health-driven supply reduction objectives, this is crucial as evidence shows that tobacco production is continuously declining starting decades ago, requiring to actively shift farmers.

Data on tobacco excise tax earmarking and utilization, farmers´ production and shifting behaviours, labor improvement and poverty alleviation indicators, and LGU capacity were analysed to determine potential program mismatches and perverse incentives. Supporting qualitative data were used to identify policy and structural gaps to address these.

Financing livelihood projects becomes the least priority (only 6% average share i funds), as a result of LGU´s final allocation being determined by their share in total tobacco leaf production, which actually put pressure on their farmers to increase production volume. Meanwhile, infrastructure continue to get bulk of sin tax earmarking and are linked to its political benefits. Last, the provision of cooperative and agro-industrial projects in selected areas were shifting behaviour is heavy can still be improved.

As the two tobacco tax sharing laws fund both programs to develop tobacco and to shift tobacco farmers to other livelihood, a schizophrenic management exists. Key structural and policy ingredients have to be present to reverse this. First is the need to establish institutional support to manage alternative livelihood funds, in order to balance the powers of National Tobacco Administration over tobacco growing areas. Allocation should not be based on production volume but rather on a systemic or comprehensive welfare assessment of shifted farmers. As livelihood programs are most commonly coursed through civil society organizations and cooperatives, trainings on local budget engagement, tobacco interference, and enterpreneurial skills, have to be offered.