The Bureau of Customs (BOC) fell short of its collection target for 2013, underlining the need to accelerate reforms in customs collection.
The bureau on Thursday said it collected P304.50 billion in 2013, nearly P40 billion below its target for the year of P340 billion.
The agency accounts for about 22 percent of the national government’s total revenues and is tasked to collect P408.1 billion this year.
Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the BOC’s total collection in 2013 was 5.1 percent, or P14.67 billion, higher compared to the P289.9 billion collected in 2012.
In December alone, Customs collections reached P23.796 billion, growing at its fastest pace of 19.3 percent year-on-year, and almost all of it coming from actual cash collections.
Meanwhile, collections from the Tax Expenditure Fund (TEF), which are non-cash collections recorded on paper for government transactions, reached only P2 million in December.
In a statement, the BOC attributed the improvement in its collection performance in 2013 to enhancements in operational efficiencies and reforms that it undertook in the last quarter of the year.
It said that the collection districts of Legaspi, Subic, Clark, Aparri, Iloilo, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Davao picked up part of the slack from the Ports of Manila and Batangas, the Manila International Container Port and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport—the largest in terms of revenues and trade volume. The seven collection districts exceeded their 2013 collection target by a total of P9.2 billion.
“The surge in the growth trajectory in the last quarter of 2013, which broke the trend growth of 5 percent in the first three quarters, indicates that the President’s Customs Reform Program implemented in October 2013 is beginning to bear fruit,” said Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.
Sevilla is optimistic that momentum will be carried over this year and that the BOC can contribute more to government coffers by transforming into a more reliable and credible partner in nation-building and economic growth.