Tra­di­tion in Cus­toms

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION -

THE dis­cov­ery that some P6.4 bil­lion worth of shabu from China en­tered the coun­try right un­der some gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials’noses again re­minds us that two of the coun­try’s big­gest chal­lenges are in­ter­twined. One is the ram­pant dis­tri­bu­tion of il­le­gal drugs. The other is cor­rup­tion in the Bu­reau of Cus­toms (BOC).

Both are old prob­lems that have also been linked to the rais­ing of funds for the coun­try’s costly elec­tions. What new steps does this ad­min­is­tra­tion in­tend to take, in or­der to clean up the BOC?

As­sess­ing the BOC sim­ply by look­ing at in­creases in its col­lec­tions isn’t enough. A pa­per for the Asian In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Pol­icy Cen­ter has pointed out that cus­toms rev­enues can rise even when leaks con­tinue. One way to fix this is to ex­am­ine trade sta­tis­tics more closely: for in­stance, com­par­ing im­port dec­la­ra­tions with what our trade part­ners re­ported as their ex­ports to us. Re­searchers Ron­ald Men­doza, Jess Lorenzo, and Fr. Al­bert Alejo, who made this rec­om­men­da­tion and wrote about it for Rap­pler in Septem­ber 2014, have es­ti­mated that up to 40 cen­tavos of ev­ery peso of tax rev­enue is drained by cor­rup­tion in the cus­toms bu­reau.

When­ever the bu­reau runs into al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion, sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tions have typ­i­cally re­sponded by nam­ing a new com­mis­sioner and mov­ing some per­son­nel around. Sen. Pan­filo Lac­son and out­go­ing Cus­toms Com­mis­sioner Ni­canor Faeldon, who have traded ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion as part of the Se­nate’s in­quiry on the shabu ship­ment, have pro­vided plenty of names and other in­for­ma­tion for gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors to ex­am­ine.

An­other pro­posal the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion can con­sider is the trans­fer of au­dit func­tions on ship­ments from the cus­toms bu­reau to an­other unit of the fi­nance de­part­ment. Last May 30, 2016, then Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III signed Repub­lic Act 10863, the Cus­toms Mod­ern­iza­tion and Tar­iff Act. This was sup­posed to de­ter smug­gling by rais­ing penal­ties for it and by in­tro­duc­ing more elec­tronic pro­cess­ing in cus­toms pro­ce­dures.

Less than two months later, Rep. Rufino Bi­a­zon of Muntinlupa, a for­mer cus­toms com­mis­sioner, filed a bill that sought to al­low the use of one per­cent of the BOC’s an­nual col­lec­tions for bet­ter equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy. If the bu­reau’s prob­lems, like cor­rup­tion, per­sist, it’s not for lack of ideas to fix them. So what is miss­ing?

— Sun­nex

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.