Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Nation: The Government Can Tax for Another Government TV Station, But Not For Drugs to Save Lives

TITV operations to be financed by 'sin' taxes

The Nation

Cabinet backs move for tobacco, alcohol taxes to pay for independent station

Up to 1.5 per cent of "sin" taxes would be utilised to sustain TITV after it received Cabinet endorsement yesterday to operate as a commercial-free public TV station.

"We consider that 1.5 per cent from the sin tax, no more than Bt2 billion, should be enough for TITV's operations," Finance Minister Chalongphop Sussangkarn told reporters.

"The working committee estimated that 1.5 per cent would be about Bt1.5 billion, as annual tobacco and alcohol excise-tax collection is about Bt100 billion," he said.

TITV's financing would follow the model for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, which was set up in 2001 outside the bureaucratic process by the Health Promotion Foundation Act, he said.

ThaiHealth runs on an annual budget of Bt2 billion from excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.

The allocation for TITV would not cause difficulties for the treasury, as the amount is deemed not too high nor too little, he said.

This is an extraordinary case, he said. The Finance Ministry normally would not agree to any law that directs the use of tax revenue, but this is a special case for better social balance.

The Thai Government has its priorities straight. It can find the money to broadcast more government propaganda and produce horrible quality programming for another public TV station, yet no money to finance the public health system, particularly for foreign drugs.

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