Cus­toms to probe big tick­ets in im­por­ta­tions

Manila Times - - NEWS - WIL­LIAM B. DEPASUPIL

THE Bureau of Cus­toms (BOC) is prob­ing deep into the bil­lions of pe­sos in rev­enue losses from smug­gling of top three prod­ucts be­ing im­ported into the Philip­pines ev­ery year as it started to purge its list of erring im­porters and bro­kers.

Cus­toms In­tel­li­gence and In­ves­ti­ga­tion Ser­vice (CIIS) Di­rec­tor Neil An­thony Estrella on Thurs­day dis­closed that they were look­ing into re­ports of ram­pant oil, lux­ury ve­hi­cle, and cig­a­rette smug­gling in many parts of the coun­try.

“We are los­ing bil­lions of pe­sos in du­ties and taxes on these three big tick­ets im­por­ta­tions,” Estrella said.

Cus­toms records show that mo­tor ve­hi­cle, oil and cig­a­rette smug­gling are cur­rently top sources of rev­enue leaks feared to hit more than P50 bil­lion per year, or al­most 10.68 per­cent of the an­nual rev­enue tar­get of P467.9 bil­lion.

Based on BOC’s sta­tis­ti­cal data on oil smug­gling, the agency loses an es­ti­mated amount of P22.5 bil­lion. The agency loses P16 bil­lion an­nu­ally from il­le­gal cig­a­rette sales, and P21 bil­lion from ve­hi­cle smug­gling, ac­cord­ing to data con­tained in re­ports of the U.S-based think-tank Global Fi­nan­cial In­tegrity and the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund.

The rev­enue losses from these three big tick­ets in Philip­pine im­ports con­trib­ute to the al­most $3.85 bil­lion (or P165.5 bil­lion, at P45/ US dol­lar ex­change rate) rev­enue loss from smug­gling yearly, or 35.4 per­cent of the cur­rent an­nual rev­enue tar­get, ac­cord­ing to BOC records.

Lux­ury ve­hi­cle smug­gling is car­ried out through mis­dec­la­ra­tion, mis­clas­si­fi­ca­tion and/or un­der­val­u­a­tion that re­sults in big rev­enue losses for the gov­ern­ment.

Cig­a­rette smug­gling robs gov­ern­ment rev­enues from non-pay­ment of du­ties and taxes, aside from use of fake tax stamps of the Bureau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue (BIR).

The BOC has al­ready re­voked the im­port ac­cred­i­ta­tion of 101 im­porters and bro­kers on sus­pi­cion of smug­gling.

There are some 11,000 ac­cred­ited im­porters and bro­kers.

A check of the list showed that the delisted im­porters and bro­kers had ship­ments that were seized be­cause of var­i­ous ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties such as mis­dec­la­ra­tion or un­der­dec­la­ra­tion of im­ported items.

Those delisted were no­ti­fied of their sta­tus and were given three days to sub­mit their re­ply to the BOC to jus­tify why they should still be given ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

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