THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) is probing deep into the billions of pesos in revenue losses from smuggling of top three products being imported into the Philippines every year as it started to purge its list of erring importers and brokers.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Neil Anthony Estrella on Thursday disclosed that they were looking into reports of rampant oil, luxury vehicle, and cigarette smuggling in many parts of the country.
“We are losing billions of pesos in duties and taxes on these three big tickets importations,” Estrella said.
Customs records show that motor vehicle, oil and cigarette smuggling are currently top sources of revenue leaks feared to hit more than P50 billion per year, or almost 10.68 percent of the annual revenue target of P467.9 billion.
Based on BOC’s statistical data on oil smuggling, it indicates that the agency loses an estimated amount of P22.5 billion; the agency loses 16 billion annually from illegal cigarette sales; and an estimated revenue leak of P21 billion in vehicle smuggling, according to data contained in reports of the U.S-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity and the International Monetary Fund.
The revenue losses from these three big tickets in Philippine imports contribute to the almost $3.85 billion (or P165.5 billion, at P45/US dollar exchange rate) revenue loss from smuggling yearly, or 35.4 percent of the current annual revenue target, according to BOC records.
Luxury vehicle smuggling is carried out through misdeclaration, misclassification and/or undervaluation that results in big revenue losses for the government.
Cigarette smuggling robs government revenues from non-payment of duties and taxes, aside from use of fake tax stamps of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The BOC has already revoked the import accreditation of 101 importers and brokers on suspicion of smuggling.
There are some 11,000 accredited importers and brokers.
A check of the list showed that the delisted importers and brokers had shipments that were seized because of various irregularities such as misdeclaration or underdeclaration of imported items.
Those delisted were notified of their current status and were given three days to submit their reply to the BOC to justify why they should still be given accreditation. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL