MALACAÑANG is dead serious about collecting the right amount of taxes from unscrupulous cigarette firms that sell their products at a loss by using all sorts of tax-evasion schemes. President Aquino emphasized this during a lull in the proceedings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, where he displayed his mastery of economics, which was his field of study at the Ateneo de Manila University.
Asked about a proposed measure in Congress that would set a minimum floor price on tobacco products, P-Noy said he was not sold on it, as market forces should be the ones to determine the price. He added, however, that the government should strictly check if companies that sell at a loss are cheating the government of revenues.
“Maraming nagsasabi na parang mali ’yung fixed-pricing on anything [Many are saying that setting fixed prices on anything seems wrong]. Let the market decide. [But] if they’re doing that [selling at a loss] and they’re still making money, [that means] they’re getting it from somewhere,” the President said.
“And if they’re getting it from somewhere, [that means] niloloko ang gobyerno [the government is being cheated]. Hindi ko matanggap na [isususko ng] gobyerno [ang] trabaho niya [of collecting the right taxes] [I won’t accept that the government would simply surrender its job (of collecting the right taxes)],” he added.
Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, who was with P-Noy at the summit, explained earlier that the pending measure in the House of Representatives was a reaction to cigarette brands that appear to be selling below the prevailing excise-tax rate and cost of production.
He specifically named Mighty cigarettes, manufactured by Bulacan province-based Mighty Corp.; and Jackpot, by Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC). Another brand—Marvels, also by Mighty Corp.—was also reportedly selling at unsustainable prices that are way below the cost of tax and production.
“Some are saying that, maybe, there should be a guide price so that you prevent this abnormal situation,” Purisima said.
“Naistrangeran ako nang konti doon sa concept. Kung ikaw, may ginagawa kang produkto [at] ibebenta mong palugi, [eh] di malulugi ka eventually. Bahala ka sa buhay mo, ’di ba? Basta tayo, nakuha natin ’yung taxes due [the] government—[that’s] No.1 [I find the concept strange. If you’re manufacturing a product and selling it at a loss, you will lose money eventually. Do what you will with your life, right? So long as we got the taxes due [the] government—(that’s) No.1],” President Aquino said.
“No. 2, sure ako na ’yung presyo, puwedeng maglagay ng cap ’pag may emergency. Kunyari, basic commodities, medicines, etc., may calamity [No. 2, I’m sure that a price cap can be placed when there’s an emergency. For example, basic commodities, medicines, etc., during a calamity],” he added.
“In the case of Mighty, I think—I assume—they have already set up [a CCTV] system to check on [Mighty], lalo na ’yung withdrawals from their warehouses. Meron na rin ’yung sa Customs checking on all tobacco na pumasok…because of that allegation [In the case of Mighty, I think—I assume—they have already set up a CCTV system to check on Mighty, especially the withdrawals from their warehouses. Customs is also checking on all tobacco imports because of that allegation],” the President said.
Mighty has settled almost P1 billion in unpaid duties with the Bureau of Customs after its customs-bonded warehouse was padlocked by Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla, after it was found to have unpaid duties and taxes. The firm was ordered to pay them after it allegedly underdeclared the volume and value of the tobacco-leaf imports.
PMFTC has been complaining about Mighty’s alleged price underdeclaration to undercut the competition, which, it claims, is made possible by the Bulacan-based firm’s allegedly illegal importation of tobacco leaves, underdeclaration of its volume removals and nonpayment of correct excise taxes. But despite repeated calls, the Bureau of Internal Revenue is yet to finish its investigation, let alone file charges against Mighty.
Exciting times for e-commerce
THE country’s business environment is about to see a new suite of options that would empower entrepreneurs and retail-establishment owners who want to boost their businesses through e-commerce, where transactions could be made with the click of a mouse. A local firm with a global reach is about to launch its e-commerce venture soon, though it didn’t want to keep its preparations for the new endeavor a secret.
For now, e-commerce in the country is yet to reach its full potential, but with this local firm’s e-commerce venture to be launched soon, this could change. This e-commerce venture is an easy-to-do thing for entrepreneurs and small- and medium-sized enterprises, as it will offer a fully scalable, end-to-end payment and logistics supply-chain platform.
This new venture removes all the guesswork involved in setting up an online business. This covers everything, from inventory management, backward and forward delivery, the creation of an online storefront, and the provision of a comprehensive payment facility. Moreover, because the company behind it is globally integrated and agile, it has the size, reach and knowledge to meet even the most challenging demands. Online buyers, too, are seen to benefit from it.
This sounds like the dawn of a new online-shopping era, and this venture will certainly create a huge impact on, shall we say, Lives, Businesses and Communities.
Image credits: Benjo Laygo