Tobacco company eyes partnership with Ilocos farmers

LAOAG CITY — Amidst the implementation of the Sin Tax Reform Law, a multi-national tobacco company is ready to expand its market and partner with Ilocos farmers for more tobacco produce.

Edwin Cariño, head of the Sustainable Development Center under the provincial government, confirmed this on Wednesday as he reported that the management of Universal Leaf Philippines Inc. (ULPI) is set to visit Ilocos Norte to discuss the possible partnership agreement with Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos.

“We are expecting the top executives of ULPI represented by its president Winston Wi or the vice president Erwin Ang to meet with our governor in the upcoming week,” said Cariño.

According to Cariño, ULPI is interested in entering into a contract growing scheme with tobacco farmers here.

He explained that under a growing scheme contract, tobacco farmers are assured of a ready market for their products. Both technical and financial assistance will also be provided to the interested growers.

In 2012, the government enacted Republic Act 10351 or the so-called Sin Tax Reform Law, which aims to curb smoking in the country by making cigarettes more expensive through higher taxes on cigarette manufacturers.

The law simplified taxation on cigarettes by imposing a single PHP30 tax for every pack, regardless of brand. The single tax rate took effect in January 2016, with a four-percent increase annually.

Meanwhile, the National Tobacco Administration has conducted a series of consultations and dialogues to formulate a roadmap for the tobacco industry.

The roadmap shall serve as NTA’s basis in effecting policies and implementing programs for the benefit of the 65,000 registered tobacco farmers in the country and those who depend on the industry for livelihood.