DTI buys more time ahead of plastic bag excise tax imposition by agents · April 26, 2022 MANILA – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) requested before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to consider providing a longer transition period for House Bill 9171 or Excise Tax on Plastic Bags.Acting Director Manuel Cruz of the DTI Board of Investments said the request will enable the affected industry to adjust, which may include those producing goods and primary commodities that use plastic bags for packaging, and their workers.“This would give local manufacturers ample time to adjust their production process or equipment, and to reskill their workforce,” he said.Cruz added that Filipino consumers will also be able to adapt strategic practices and buying habits on goods that will be affected by the excise tax.Senator Pia Cayetano, who chairs the Committee on Ways and Means that leads the crafting of a counterpart version of the House bill, told Cruz that consumer education and awareness should have started a long time ago.“I’m all for that, for educating, awareness which is dapat matagal niyo na rin namang ginagawa (something you should have done a long time ago). Let’s not pretend that it’s only happening now. It’s your job between you and the Department of Education. You should be promoting healthier, environment-friendly practices. Don’t wait for a new bill for you to say that we need five years now. No, you should have been doing this in the last 10 years because you should be promoting goods and products,” she said.DTI Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau Director Marcus Valdez II clarified the agency’s stand citing packaging practices in other countries without using plastic.“It is a transition period for those producing basic necessities and prime commodities using the plastic as packaging. You know, when you buy meat abroad, they pack it in paper. Perhaps we can also do that here both for retailers and also for the buying habits of the consumer to pack the meat or other goods in materials other than plastic. So that’s for the transition period referred to,” Valdez said.House Bill 9171, approved in December last year, seeks to impose a PHP20 per kilo levy on single-use plastic bags used in supermarkets, malls, shops, stores, sales outlets, and other establishments.The Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Customs, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Department of the Interior and Local Government expressed their support for the bill with specific recommendations.DOF Policy, Research, and Liaison Office Director Arvin Quiñones said they estimate the government can collect around PHP923 million in excise taxes in 2023.Meanwhile, Philippine Plastic Industry Association (PPIA) president Danny Ngo said the agriculture and food industries heavily rely on plastic bags.“Wala po tayong magandang (We have no better) alternative,” he said pointing out that meat and vegetables can last longer when wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator.Ngo said a total of 11,961 companies that employ 247,832 workers will be affected.He vowed that PPIA is willing to collaborate with the government and other sectors for proper use and disposal of plastic and change the behavioral practices of consumers.