Customs collections up 13.4% in April

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) posted a 13.4 percent increase in collections in April compared with a year earlier due to a tighter watch over imports, but fell short of its goal for the period by 14 percent.

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The bureau cited the fewer number of days in April this year against last year and an extended truck ban as factors behind the shortfall against the target.

In a statement, the BOC reported its total collections reached P30.77 billion in April, compared with P27.14 billion achieved a year earlier and against P35.79 billion set as collection target for the month.

“This is the fourth straight month of double-digit collection growth for the agency, which accounts for about 22 percent of total government revenues,” the BOC statement said.

However, the bureau failed to meet its P35.79 billion collection target for the month as there were only 19 working days in April 2014, versus 21 days in April 2013.

The implementation of the expanded truck ban in Manila also generated lower-than-projected collections at the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port, the country’s largest customs ports in terms of volume, the bureau said.

In February, the Manila city government started imposing a daytime ban on trucks plying the congested Philippine capital. Trucks were only allowed on the designated roads from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with a daytime window period from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A private economist at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Nicholas Antonio Mapa, said

The Manila truck ban may have limited the movement of cargo and caused a logistical backlog, and ultimately, lower collections.

Cumulative Customs collections from January to April jumped 22.2 percent year-on-year to P117.27 billion from P95.95 billion. But compared with the P130.57 billion target for the four-month period, cumulative collections were short by about P13.31 billion.

The bureau is tasked to collect about P408 billion for the government this year, or 22 percent of the total revenue target for 2014.

Earlier, global ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said the improvement in the revenue collections of the BOC may be considered a credit-positive development for the country.

“I think that is something you really can’t ignore. That kind of performance over the past couple of months is credit-positive in our point of view . . . ,” Moody’s Senior Analyst Christian de Guzman said on the sidelines of the recent Financial Times-First Metro Investment Summit.

“When you look at just the long-term trend, there has been a deterioration in customs revenue as a share of gross domestic product, but the way that it has evolved in the past months with the new commissioner, certainly that is positive not just for tax revenue but for revenue as a whole,” the analyst added.

Mapa views the year-on-year increase in collections by the Customs as a positive result of the reforms the agency has been implementing to crack down on smuggled goods, but cautioned that the smuggled goods must be used as components of exportable products for the crackdown to mean anything positive for the economy.

“Although this is a plus on the revenue side, a higher level of imports may be viewed as a negative to the overall GDP [gross domestic product]growth print should these smuggled goods not be used as components for eventual export,” he said.

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