Imee Marcos bats for VAT exemption for all prescription drugs


MANILA — Senator Imee Marcos on Thursday said she will soon file a bill in the Senate seeking to remove the value-added tax (VAT) on all prescription medicines amid the dismal performance of health authorities in rolling out the universal health care law.

Marcos said exempting all prescription drugs from VAT would ease the burden of the people while the Department of Health (DOH) straightens its act in delivering services promised by the universal health care law.

“Lahat tayo nadidismaya sa (We are all dismayed with the) DOH kasi (because) PhilHealth is so badly managed na hanggang ngayon di pa natin alam kung magkano talaga ang halaga at ano ang rollup na yan (that up to now, we still don’t know the extent of the rollup and its real cost),” she told reporters.

“‘Yung kaya nating gawin agad-agad ay tanggalin na ang VAT sa lahat ng (What we can immediately do is remove the VAT from all) prescriptive medicines. So let’s do that first of all. Kung hindi yung PhilHealth agad-agad mabubuo at kukulangin pa rin at talagang hindi kaya ng DOH, at least bigyan natin ng konting tulong ang tao (If PhilHealth could not be immediately rehabilitated and the DOH is still lacking in capacity, at least we can give a little help to the people),” Marcos said.

She also downplayed fears that removing the VAT on all prescription drugs would dent revenue collections.

Marcos pointed out that VAT on medicine for hypertension, diabetes, and other maintenance drugs were earlier removed without any dire effect on revenue collections.

“Wala namang nangyari, hindi naman bumagsak ang langit. Mataas pa nga ang koleksyon (Nothing happened, the sky did not fall. Collections were even high),” she said.

“Bakit di na lang tanggalin ang VAT sa lahat ng gamot kasi wala naman talagang may gustong magkasakit at mangailangan ng gamot (Why don’t we remove the VAT on all drugs since nobody really wants to get sick and require medicines).” (PCOO/PNA/Marian Sinamban/IAMIGO/CNS)

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