EXPIRED and substandard cement from Vietnam are flooding the local market as a result of rampant technical smuggling, depriving the government some P1 billion a month or P12 billion a year in revenues, a group said Wednesday.
The cause-oriented group Advocate for Good Governance, through Argee Guevarra, said the Bureau of Customs (BoC) should investigate at least a dozen local companies for technical smuggling.
Guevarra said records show that these firms were able to declare a substantially low freight charge of US$8 per metric ton when the prevailing charges for similar and other shipments ranged from $19 to $22.90.
This undervaluation of freight charges translates to around P1 billion a month or P12 billion a year in potential revenue losses.
“The smuggled cement from Vietnam flood the local market and are sold at very low priced compared to locally produced cement,” Guevarra told reporters. He said the smuggled cement have expired or have gone beyond their shelf life, thus are “extremely dangerous” if used in construction.
“The shelf life of cement is only six months. However, they (importers) reprocess the cement to pass the Philippine standard,” he added.
Guevarra said his group has submitted all documents and supporting evidence to Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon. These documents can be validated through the BoC’s computer system that for the past several months, shipments of cement have entered the Philippine market at unrealistically low prices.
“We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg because our initial submissions may only form part of the bigger scheme, but enough to establish prima facie evidence to warrant the filing of cases of smuggling,” Guevarra said.
“We will leave no stone unturned in the issue of cement smuggling. And just like in rice smuggling, we are determined to file the necessary criminal charges against those responsible,” he added.