SEATCA facilitates study visits of Cambodian tax dep’t & Myanmar MOHS

Bangkok: Parliamentarians and senior officials from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ministry of Health and Sport (MOHS) together with the People’s Health Foundation (PHF) paid a study visit to Thailand to learn about sustainable financial mechanism of Thai Health Promotion Foundation from 1-3 February 2017. The study visit was organized by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) in collaboration with the People’s Health Foundation.

During the visit, they learned about sustainable financial mechanism to support tobacco control measures and social development and discussed the possibility of sustainable financing mechanism in the context of Myanmar. 

Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, Executive Director of SEATCA, shared different models of health promotion foundations in different regions of Thailand.  Dr. Supreda Adulyanon, ThaiHealth’s Chief Executive Officer shared ThaiHealth’s extensive experience on governance, strategic planning, granting system, accountability and multi-sectoral approach to get different stakeholders from different sectors on board.

They also learned the tobacco control plans and programs supported by ThaiHealth in Thailand. Vietnam, Laos and Philippines experiences on tobacco control fund and use of tobacco tax for health insurance system were also tackled. Participants also learned the tobacco tax system in Thailand and how the tobacco and alcohol surcharge tax work. It was also discussed why sustainable financing mechanism and ThaiHelath is needed in Thailand and the process of establishing the health promotion foundation. SEATCA, ThaiHealth and the Ministry of Finance, Thailand provided a set of recommendations in moving forward. 

In the afternoon of the second day, participants visited the Thai Health professional Alliance for tobacco control for mobilizing different medical professionals in achieving successful tobacco control with the support of ThaiHealth. On the last day of the visit, participants visited Thai PBS which is a state organization on public broadcasting supported by tobacco tax with a similar surcharge tax mechanism. Participants learnt the importance of sustainable financing mechanism for different issues such as health promotion and healthy public broadcasting.

Manila: On the same dates, 7 Cambodian officials from the General Department of Taxation (GDT) headed by Deputy Director General of GDT, H.E. Um Seiha and WHO Cambodia were in the Philippines to learn about the Philippine sin tax reforms.

The two-day visit started with a meeting with the Department of Finance (DOF) Policy Team to learn about Philippine tax policies particulary on tobacco and the experience of the department in implementing the Sin Tax. During the meeting with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the afternoon, the team learned how the BIR collects tobacco taxes and the different systems they have in place to ensure proper taxes are collected from all tobacco products covered by the law. BIR officials also presented how they implement the use of excise tax stamps.

The highlight of the visit was the tour arranged by the BIR and SEATCA to the Apo Production Unit, Inc. in Lima, Batangas where the Philippines’ world-class, tamper-proof excise tax stamps are printed. 

SEATCA hopes that these study visits can facilitate experience and knowledge-sharing among countries to improve tobacco control measures in the ASEAN.