March 24, the members of the Health Protection Committee were discussing the bill introducing a single standard for the cigarette sales – 20 pieces in a pack.
The majority of the State Duma Committee on Health voted for approving a bill banning the sale of more than 20 cigarettes in a pack. In the case of the adoption – the bill will come into force July 1, 2016. The bill had previously received approvals from the government. However, the Cabinet of the ministers endorsed a draft law on the condition of its entry into force with a delay, but not immediately after the adoption. “The main amendments, which were recommended to us by the government proposal added up to make a more smooth entry into force”, – said the deputy Sergey Dorofeev, author of the bill. His colleague, Victor Zvagelskii, offered to give the tobacco companies a delay in this matter till 1 July 2016, and the majority voted for this amendment and it was adopted.
The bill affects the interests of large companies, and lawmakers heard them and established a reasonable transitional period. We would like to see the consistent actions from the deputies and the government on this issue, even if the bill affects the interests and small companies. Snus ban that was passed with hysterical haste in the last week of December 2015 did not include any transitional period and came into force from the date of publication, January 11, 2016, making four importers of snus and all their trading partners as “violators”. Is this a civilized approach?
Interestingly, the amendment of snus in the Federal Law-15, reducing the potential revenues of about 200 million rubles per year (in 2015 was imported about 100 tons of snus), have been adopted with an immediate effect, and the present amendment, which actually increases revenues the budget by 5-6 billion rubles in annual terms, was adopted with the transition period. Certainly, the presence of the transition period – good for any business, and the Committee’s decision is welcome, but it raises questions of deputies’ competences, especially in the context of the budgetary provision: the project that lowers the tax revenue enters into effect immediately, and the one that increases the tax revenue – with a delay. And this we see at a time when budget desperately needs every penny.
On the eve of the meeting of the Committee, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” published an article on this subject, which has outlined in detail the interesting ideas of the deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Budget and Taxes Sergey Katasonov. According to him, from a budgetary point of view, it is not necessary to impose restrictions on the packaging format, and it is necessary to increase by 3% ad valorem component of excise tax. Detailed calculation of the deputy cited in the paper shows that the budget for each 1,000 cigarettes in this case would have received more than the prohibition of large packs. A striking example of the “Australian logic.” It is clear for a hedgehog that the budget will bring more if you increase the tax rate. You need to offer a solution how to raise the tax revenues WITHOUT changing tax rates – and the unification of the packages is a solution – well done and a specialist in its place. Opposition to such a proposal should also raise questions about the competence of a member of the Budget Committee, especially its head. A proposal to increase the ad valorem part of the tax, frankly redistributive tax burden to the sellers of cheap cigarettes manufacturers more expensive products, should raise questions about the integrity of the deputy, in fact, lobbying someone’s specific interests. Let’s hope that the upcoming elections and the shake-up compositions of all Duma committees will result in the tax committee of professionals in the public mathematics, and not “the Australian logic” and demagogy.