Mighty Corp (MC), one of the country’s local producers of low-priced cigarettes, yesterday announced it will buy 10 million kilograms of tobacco products worth millions of pesos from farmers in Northern Luzon and elsewhere in the country.
In an official letter of intent he sent to National Tobacco Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza, MC Executive Vice President Oscar P. Barrientos said it is buying tobacco from farmers 100 percent more than the five million kilograms his firm bought in 2013.
“This is to assure our tobacco farmers of our willingness to help in response to the published report of the market leader in the tobacco industry to lessen production this year,” Barrientos, a retired regional trial court judge, said.
The letter of intent, in effect, debunked critics’ allegations that MC has been importing raw materials from foreign countries at low prices and therefore it is no longer buying tobacco from local farmers.
Barrientos said their critics have been resorting to a disinformation campaign using convoluted data in an effort to undermine Mighty’s tremendous increase of its market shares.
MC’s market shares surged to almost 20 percent of the low-priced cigarette brands last year from three percent the previous year, resulting to the payment P8.2 billion in excise taxes.
According to Barrientos, their market shares shot up after the government effectively implemented Republic Act 10352, otherwise known as the Sin Tax Law that leveled the playing field in the multibillion-peso tobacco industry which was controlled by Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco. The new law that took 14 years to pass and certified as urgent by President Aquino III caused a tremendous migration of smokers from the expensive premium and sub-premium brands to low-priced cigarettes.
It also resulted to some smokers, because of economic reason, to simply quit the vice and thus validated health authorities estimate that the sin tax law would result to the decrease of the number of smokers in the country.
Before the end of 2013, total tax collection by the BIR hit an all time increase of P91.6 billion from P60.4 billion in 2012. Taxes from cigarettes represented 61.6 percent or almost two thirds of all sin tax collection for 11 months of 2013.
Mighty Corp., then a minor player with a measly three percent of the market share with only P500 million in excise tax payments before the sin tax law took effect in 2012, contributed P8.2 billion in tax payments in 2013, discrediting its critics that it had allegedly committed technical smuggling and tax evasion.