Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Thursday urged the government to increase the current 3 percent “sin” tax imposed on imported alcohol and cigarettes, and to lower taxes on products that people need, such as food and medicine.
“I want the government to increase the tax on harmful products, especially on cigarettes and alcohol because they are dangerous for our health,” Sam Rainsy said during a National Assembly debate on legislation on the quality of good and services.
Sam Rainsy, who just returned to work Thursday after a month-and-a-half stay in France, said the government must be tough on products that will cost the government a lot of money in the future.
“If we keep ignoring cigarettes and alcohol, Cambodians will inevitably have cancer,” he said. “The country will waste a lot of budget money to give treatment and it will be a big burden on the national economy.”
Other parliamentarians joined Sam Rainsy in calling for an increase on taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.
“The government has to control this situation more closely and put higher taxes on these products,” said Funcinpec parliamentarian Neoung Sin.
Princess Norodom Vicheara said she was concerned about advertisements for cigarettes and alcohol. These ads should be banned on television, the radio and in public places, she said.
“Please don’t encourage our people by advertising cigarettes and wine,” said the princess, who added that other countries like France have strict laws to control cigarettes and alcohol.
Sok Siphanna, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said he thought increasing the tax on cigarettes and alcohol was a good idea. He also said the government was very interested in seeking ways to control advertising for harmful products.
“With the absence of adequate laws and regulations, it can cause some problems to go out of control,” Sok Siphanna said.
On Thursday, the National Assembly passed one article in the eight-chapter and 73-article legislation on the quality of goods and services. The article requires all information on the packaging of products to be approved by the relevant ministry.