Government plans closing undermanned ports

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Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on Wednesday announced that the government is planning to close certain ports in the country to address the problem of smuggling in the Bureau of Customs.

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“We will be closing certain ports. We just have to use political will to close it,” Purisima said during the sidelines of the Federation of Philippine Industries’ General Membership Meeting held at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

The finance chief added that the plan is necessary to make sure that that the country’s ports are properly manned, and are of service to businessmen.

“We have a lot of ports, and in fact when I visited some of the ports, they practically do not have shipments,” he said.

However, Purisima noted that before closing the ports, the government will conduct a consultation with businesses.

“We will consult with businesses. We will listen to you. We need to rationalize this and we will consult in the process,” he said.

Moreover, the finance secretary mentioned that the government will come up with a report once the consultations are done, hopefully this year.

Meanwhile, on oil smuggling, Purisima said that the country is losing about $500 million a year.

“That’s our rough estimate, industry is also saying that, so whatever the amount, any peso you lose to smuggling is something too much,” he added.

The Cabinet official said that to address this problem, the government is now implementing immediate taxation of all oil shipments that enters the country.

Secondly, he said that the government will also look at accrediting ports that will take oil shipments, since not all ports can handle these.

“So those are among the steps, then closer working cooperation with Department of Energy,” he added.

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