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Instant noodles excluded from proposed tax on salty foods —Diokno

Instant noodles will not be slapped with higher taxes despite their high sodium content, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

“If you're thinking of the noodles, ‘yun talaga salty ‘yun. That’s 60% sodium [content]. Hindi naman iko-cover ‘yun. ‘Yun ang talagang [para] sa mga mahihirap,” Diokno told reporters during his weekly press briefing.

A pack of instant noodles—a staple in many poor households—typically contains about 1,500 milligrams (mg) to over 2,000 mg of sodium, while it is recommended that a person can only consume less than 2,300 mg in a day.

Last week, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman revealed that the Marcos administration is pushing for the passage of new tax measures within this year, particularly higher taxes on sweetened beverages and junk food in a bid to tackle diabetes, obesity, and non-communicable diseases related to poor diet. 

In particular, the Department of Finance (DOF) is planning to impose a P10 per 100 grams or P10 per 100 milliliters tax on pre-packaged foods lacking nutritional value, such as confectioneries, snacks, desserts, and frozen confectioneries that exceed the Department of Health’s (DOH) specified thresholds for fat, salt, and sugar content.

Diokno said the DOF is consulting with the National Nutrition Council and the DOH to come up with a list of such foods.

But so far, the Finance chief said, the list may include “snacks, chips, ‘yun talaga siguro.”

In September last year, the Department of Health announced it was proposing additional taxes on junk food and sweetened beverages as it sought to address obesity in the country and boost revenues for the universal healthcare program.

Diokno said the proposal is both a health and revenue measure.

“It’s both… laking impact din ‘yun in the long run,” he said.

Earlier, the Finance chief said that the implementation of the junk food and sweetened beverage tax package will generate an additional P76 billion in revenues during the first year.

The tax package is also estimated to result in a 21% reduction in the consumption of junk food, he said.

“The incremental revenues from this tax package will fund important socio-economic programs initiated by the Marcos administration, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) food stamp program. This program will provide support to one million food-poor households, to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition,” Diokno said in a statement last week. — BM, GMA Integrated News