SENATOR Sonny Angara urged the government to fast-track the release of the implementing guidelines on the value-added tax (VAT) exemption of medicines under Republic Act 10963.
Under the law, “sale of drugs and medicines prescribed for diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension” shall be exempt from VAT beginning January 1, 2019. The provision was introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
According to the Department of Finance, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is still currently drafting the implementing guidelines.
The Department of Health has conducted three consultations with stakeholders to ensure pharmaceutical industry will have no difficulty in implementing the exemption.
“Nananawagan po tayo sa BIR na madaliin na ang pag-release ng implementing guidelines para gawing VAT-free at mas mura ang mga gamot. Filipino families still face the problem of limited access to affordable, safe, and quality essential medicines.
“Dahil sa mahal ng gamot, kadalasang hindi nasusunod ang reseta ng doktor kaya naaantala ang paggaling. Dapat maipatupad na ito sa susunod na taon para mapakinabangan na ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino ang mas abot-kayang mga gamot,” Angara said.
With the VAT exemption, type 2 diabetes patients who are taking Metformin, which costs P15 per tablet, twice a day, can save around P1,300 in a year.
Angara also authored laws granting senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) VAT exemption on the purchase of medicines, on top of their 20-percent discount.
“Sa ilalim ng batas, hindi lamang ang ating mga senior at PWD ang makatitipid sa gamot. This is a huge step in making essential medicines more accessible to all Filipinos,” said Angara, one of the authors of the Universal Health Care bill, which mandates PhilHealth to provide free check-ups and laboratory tests.