BOC orders 62 rice importers to pay P2.8-B deficiency duties

- By Bernadette D. Nicolas @Bnicolasbm

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) ordered 62 rice importers found to have customs compliance issues to pay a combined total of P2.799 billion in deficiency duties.

The post-clearance audit conducted by the bureau covered a total of 69 rice importers with shipments within January to June 2020. However, seven of these importers were found to have no issues.

The audit was conducted in a bid to protect government revenues as well as local producers of agricultur­al products.

Customs Assistant Commission­er and Post-clearance Audit Group Head Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla told Businessmi­rror that the biggest chunk of the deficiency duties will come from 29 auditees who were told to pay a combined total of P1.43 billion in surcharges for failing to provide free and full access to their records without justifiabl­e reason.

Forty-two rice importers with valuation issues are also charged a combined total of P1.27 billion, equivalent to 45.36 percent of the deficiency taxes.

“In terms of value, there were about 42 auditees that failed to submit satisfacto­ry proof to support the accuracy of the declared transactio­n value,” Maronilla said.

However, he said this does not necessaril­y mean these rice imports automatica­lly committed undervalua­tion, which connotes there is fraud involved.

Apart from this, a total of P67.57 million in deficiency duties were charged to 47 auditees who were not able to prove that they did not understate their insurance cost while 16 auditees had to pay P27.27 million for having issues with their freight.

Maronilla also disclosed that 15 cooperativ­es were found to have customs compliance issues, mainly noncomplia­nce with record-keeping requiremen­ts.

So far, Maronilla said 14 of the auditees found to have customs compliance issues have already availed of the Prior Disclosure Program and have voluntaril­y paid P7.1 million in deficiency duties.

The customs official also said the audited rice importers were already given the summary of the audit results and that the bureau has already sent the demand letters to those who have not voluntaril­y paid.

To date, more than 10 rice importers have also said they would resort to legal remedies, Maronilla said.

He added rice importers with deficiency taxes should be able to pay their charges within 10 days from receipt of the demand letter.

“We have an assessment and if they weren’t able to contest that, and they weren’t able to appeal that to the proper office and it becomes, then we’ll proceed to collect,” he said.

Last year, the BOC found in its audit covering the period of March 5 to June 2019 that over 40 rice importers were liable for the payment of a combined total of P1.417 billion in deficiency customs, duties, penalties, surcharges, and interest due to undervalua­tion, misclassif­ication, and/or understate­ment of freight and insurance charges.

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