Ilocos Norte eyes release of P800-M tobacco excise tax

An Ilokano farmer sprays insecticide on his tobacco plants to keep them robust and healthy until harvest time in Santo Tomas, La Union. VA/NorthboundPH

LAOAG CITY — Ilocos Norte is eyeing the release of about Php800 million from the province’s share in tobacco excise taxes.

Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba said Friday the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed two resolutions requesting the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release the excise tax of Virginia and Burley tobacco collected in 2014 and 2015.

Following the approval of the said resolutions required by the DBM, Barba said Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa Marcos will personally follow up the release of the said fund to the DBM central office.

Included in the approved resolutions are a detailed list of proposed programs, projects and activities, including funding for research and development, agricultural infrastructures and livelihood that would provide assistance to tobacco farmers here.

Under Republic Act 7171, tobacco-producing provinces like Ilocos Norte with an annual average production of not less than one million kilos of Virginia tobacco are entitled to 15 percent of the excise tax collections from the locally manufactured Virginia-type cigarette.

Burley and native tobacco producing-provinces are also entitled to “15 percent of the incremental revenue collected from the excise tax on tobacco products” as a result of higher tax rates way back in 1997.

Of the total amount, 30 percent goes to the provincial government, 40 percent to the municipal or city government and 30 percent to congressional districts.

The law further states the money shall be utilized exclusively for programs to advance the self-reliance of tobacco farmers through cooperative, livelihood, agro-industrial and infrastructure development.

To date, Ilocos Norte is being investigated by the House Committee on Good Government and Accountability for its alleged misuse of PhP66 -million tobacco funds for the purchase of multicabs.

Other Virginia tobacco-producing provinces in the country are Ilocos Sur, La Union and Abra while Burley and native tobacco top growers include the provinces of Isabela, Pangasinan and Cagayan.

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