PMFTC Inc., the local affiliate of Philip Morris International, assured that the company is fully committed to help tobacco-farming communities in recovering from the coronavirus-induced economic crisis.
Denis Gorkun, PMFTC Inc. president, said that approximately about $130 million, or P6.2 billion, will be spent by the company to buy more than 45,000 tons of locally-grown green tobacco leaf over the next three-years.
While the cigarette industry’s production volume had declined by 35 percent from 2012 to 2019, Gorkun noted that PMFTC manufacturing operations bought 43 percent of its leaf purchases from Filipino farmers to cater both domestic and 15 export countries.
According to Gorkun, the annual increases in excise taxes as well as the proliferation of illicit cigarettes have dampened demand for tax-paid cigarette products in the domestic market.
“Despite these developments, PMFTC remains committed to purchasing a substantial size of our local tobacco leaf through our suppliers,” Gorkun said in his latter dated October 15, 2020 to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“While dependent on tobacco industry dynamics and the government’s excise tax polices, we anticipate spending approximately $130 million for more than 45,000 tons of Philippine green tobacco leaf over the next three-years,” he added.
In addition, Gorkun said that PMFTC, through its leaf suppliers, has been implementing a comprehensive Agricultural Labor Practices program that benefits approximately 15,000 tobacco farmers from Regions 1, 2 and CAR including Nueva Ecija and Tarlac.
“PMFTC is also committed to enhance the capacity of tobacco-farming communities through diversified crops while improving the quality and competitiveness of Philippine tobacco,” the PMFTC official said.
In the end, Gorkun assured Dominguez of PMFTC’s “support for readable regulations applicable to tobacco products.”
“The development of balanced and fair regulations will not only protect the interest of various stakeholders but also ensure the sustainability of the tobacco industry and the livelihood of our Filipino tobacco farmers, especially with the economic challenges were are facing today,” he said.
Earlier, Dominguez and Dar requested local cigarette manufacturers to help support local growers and raise revenues for tobacco-producing provinces affected by the pandemic-induced economic shock by hiking its purchases of locally produced tobacco leaf.
In their letter, Dominguez and Dar pointed out that the strict quarantines imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 had constrained the marketing flow of food and other agricultural goods, including tobacco, which is among the most affected crops as it is a non-food commodity.