Plastic bag excise tax seen impacting workers, consumers most

WORKERS and consumers are expected to bear the brunt of a proposed P20 tax on plastic carrier bags by weight, a major union said.

Alan T. Tanjusay, spokesman and policy advocacy officer for the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said that the proposed tax, if signed into law, will cause plastic carrier bag manufacturers to pass on the extra costs to consumers or downsize operations.

“If enacted as is, plastics manufacturers will either raise the cost of the plastic and pass the burden to consumers or will cease to manufacture and downsize,” Mr. Tanjusay told BusinessWorld in an e-mail on March 24.

The House Committee on Ways and Means approved an unnumbered substitute bill that will collect a P20 excise tax per kilogram of plastic carrier bags removed from the place of production. The panel is chaired by Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda.

Mr. Tanjusay said the substitute bill “failed to justify and articulate why plastic carrier bags are being singled out with an excise tax.”

“We all get the impression that the bill will… (kill) the industry and cut jobs,” he added.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) described the measure as “discriminatory.”

“Why should we single out plastic bags when any carrier bags could also be potential waste items, and unrecyclable? If the spirit for bill is anchored on the premise that it will reduce waste significantly, then it is indeed discriminatory,” FPI told BusinessWorld in an e-mail Monday.

In a separate e-mail on March 24, the FPI said that the measure was also “anti-poor,” since it will lead customers to buy other types of carrier bags at higher prices.

According to the substitute bill, all revenue from the excise tax will be used to support the solid waste management programs of local government units.

An earlier version of the bill, House Bill 178, which sought a P10 excise tax on plastic carrier bags, was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations. — Angelica Y. Yang