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THE World Bank has reported that more than nine of every 10 cigarette packs sold in the country already bear the mandatory tax stamps required under the Internal Revenue Stamps Integrated System (IRSIS) of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on tobacco products.

In its latest report posted on the Department of Finance (DOF) web site, World Bank data showed that over 96.1 percent of the cigarette packs in retail outlets comply with the IRSIS, which the BIR began to implement in April last year.

At the end of this month, the World Bank is expected to come out with a full joint report with the DOF on the successful implementation of the “sin” tax reform law.

In all 13 brands monitored by the BIR last November 29 in various outlets, at least 90 percent bore such stamps. These included brands LA, Boss and Plaza, with 100-percent compliance, while the 10 others—Hope, Mark, Marlboro, Mighty Corporation, Winston, More, Camel, Champion, Fortune and Philip Morris—had over 90-percent stamps on their cigarette packs.

In the provinces, the BIR noted 100-percent Irsis compliance in Bulacan, Pampanga and Pangasinan; 93.5 percent in Quezon province; 90.2 percent in Negros Oriental; 85.7 percent in Laguna; and 66.7 percent in Cebu and Nueva Vizcaya.

Because of tight BIR monitoring, Metro Manila represented the higher percentage compliance at 99.8 percent, the World Bank report said.

The BIR, early this year, started its strict surveillance and monitoring on cigarette manufacturers by requiring them to install their own CCTVs in their factories and through the IRSIS.

Mighty Corp., a wholly-owned Filipino cigarette maker operating for the past 70 years, was the first to install a closed-circuit monitoring system—from production to withdrawal of finish products—in compliance with the BIR’s requirements.

BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares earlier said the World Bank’s preliminary report indicated that, as far as the implementation of the IRSIS on cigarettes was concerned, “there’s always room for improvement, and we should always be on guard.”

The BIR chief had nonetheless also acknowledged that there remained unscrupulous entities that do not follow the law.

The BIR has relentlessly campaigned against untaxed cigarettes, confiscating more than 42,000 packs of locally made and imported cigarettes in Batangas without tax stamps. The previous raids also resulted in the seizure of illegal products in Nueva Ecija, Cavite, Cebu and Zamboanga del Sur last June.

“The BIR, through its authorized representatives, shall conduct on-the-spot surveillance of cigarette products either in the place of production, storage facilities, or in the domestic market, as the case may be, through the use of mobile verification devices issued for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the
IRSIS,” a ranking revenue official said

Revenue officials said excise-tax collections from sin products continued to rise as a result of tax rates adjustments under Republic Act 10351, or the sin-tax reform law.

In essence, the new restructured excise-tax system resulted in higher cigarette prices and, thus, discouraged smoking, while, at the same time, collecting more revenues for health care.

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