EXCLUSIVE

Customs losing millions of pesos to undervaluation

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THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) is losing some P48 million a month in duties and taxes from rampant undervaluation, a form of technical smuggling, clearly undermining Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s strengthened anti-smuggling campaign aimed at cleansing the allegedly graft-ridden bureau and generate much-needed revenues.

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Documents obtained by The Manila Times showed at least 102 import entries whose payments were undervalued from P18,000 to P100,000 per container, depending on the container van being 20-footer or 40-footer. Each entry contains up to more than 30 containers.

The import entries were entered either through the Manila International Container Port (MICP) or the Port of Manila (PoM), BoC’s flagship ports.

The undervalued shipments were being brokered by two favored Customs players, whom The Manila Times source identified only as a certain “Veste” and a certain “Kimberly.”

“Malaki and diperensiya sa bayaran ng duties and taxes [There’s a big difference in the payment of duties and taxes]. For regular players, they pay between P35,000 and P60,000 per container and P60,000 and P150,000 for 40-foot container,” Faeldon said.

“But Teves and Kimberly only paid P16,000 to P27,000 for a 20-footer container and P35,000 to P50,000 for a 40-foot container,” he added.

Each of them, the source said, has an average of at least 600 containers or a total of 1,200 containers a week.
“At an average of only P10,000 per container, they are depriving the government at least P12 million in taxes a week or P48 million a month,” Faeldon said.

Among those in the documents were Entry Nos. 64922, 64926, 64933, 64934, 64936, 64937, 64941 and 64943, which contain tiles from China and paid only P25,000 in taxes per 20-footer container.
They were entered through the PoM.

Entry Nos. 149223, 149234,149238,149252,150421,150446 and 150459 were only assessed P24,000 per container.

They arrived at the MICP and also contained ceramic tiles from China.

The other entries were general merchandise, construction supply, yarn, fire bricks and footwear.

When asked who the backers of the two favored players are, the source said “they were name-dropping the name of the so-called Davao Group and Polong,” obviously referring to presidential son Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

Faeldon earlier issued Customs Special Order 45-2016 creating the Command Center (Comcen), whose primary purpose is to provide the Office of the Commissioner situational awareness of the various collection districts and other operational concerns, particularly on trade facilitation.

Comcen also acts as the coordinating facility of the bureau’s Operations Group in the proper collection of Customs duties and taxes, enforcement of tariff and Customs laws, prevention and suppression of all forms of Customs fraud and other economic frauds in all ports of entry.

Other functions include monitoring and supervision of daily operations of the principal ports of entry and sub-ports.

Earlier, Faeldon also issued CSO No.44-2016, creating the Special Studies and Project Development Committee (SSPDC), a superbody tasked to curb rampant smuggling and other Customs frauds in an effort to arrest dwindling revenue collections.

As specified in Faeldon’s order, the SSPDC has “primary authority over any acts involving smuggling, illegal importation, Customs fraud or other acts, including violation of the provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Revised Penal Code and other related Customs and tariff laws, rules and regulations committed by any individual, groups and juridical entities.”

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