THE Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) has called the attention of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to what it says is the apparent undervalued freight costs of a shipment of 20,000 metric tons of reinforcing steel bars (rebars) from China.
The shipment arrived at the Port of Subic on November 2. The consignee, Mannage Resources Trading Corp. (MRTC), declared in its import documents freight and insurance costs totaling P1.9 million or less than $2 per ton in freight and insurance costs, PISI said.
In a letter to Subic Port district collector Carmelita Talusan on Monday, PISI President Roberto Cola said that prevailing freight and insurance rates are $9 per metric ton from China to Hong Kong; $15 per MT from China to Singapore; and $18 to $25 per MT to the Philippines.
Freight and insurance costs form part of the basis for determining the duties an import shipment should pay.
Cola said that under the newly signed Republic Act (RA) 10863 or An Act Modernizing the Customs and Tariff Administration, fraudulent declaration of import documents may result in the seizure and forfeiture of the imported goods.
Mannage was also involved in a controversial shipment of 5,000 tons of imported steel bars in May 2016 which were ordered held by Subic customs officials for lack of permits and a legitimate import clearance certificate (ICC).
The shipment was eventually released despite PISI pleas to have the rebars checked for safety. Local rebar manufacturers have to submit one sample per 20 MT of production for tests to protect public safety.
The Mannage imports should have had 250 samples but only three were taken, of which only one was tested.