An iron and steel industry group has taken action to prevent the continued technical smuggling of substandard products that pose danger to builders who use them.
A complaint for technical smuggling was recently filed by the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) against a company suspected of engaging in technical smuggling. In the complaint, PISI documented the extensive importation of steel products priced way below even the price of scrap metal.
The imports came into the country through the Port of Cebu.
In a press briefing in Quezon City, the PISI cited that according to Philippine manufacturing standards, it is prohibited to fabricate wire rods into reinforcement bars since greater tensile strength is required for load-carrying structures.
PISI said that aside from being imported below their actual value, the steel products in question are also substandard. The government had already warned the public against buying the products.
On February 5, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) published a full-page advertisement in a major newspaper detailing the amounts paid by the country’s steel manufacturers for the products they imported. The information was classified according to the nature of the products brought into the country.
Notable in the published information is the “wide variance in the declared values of products” that fall within a similar category. The listing of steel importers did not explain the wide variance.
The variance is most notable in the category titled “HS Code 7213: Bars and Rods, hot-rolled, in irregularly wound coils, of iron or non-alloy steel.”
Joyland Industries Corp. declared the value of its imports at only P13.41 per kilo, when most of the other importers post much higher values.
Another notable variance is in the HS Code 7211: Flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy wherein Wisdom Marketing declared the value of its imports at only P13.35 per kilo.
The other importers declared values between P46.75 and P18.98 per kilo.
It was learned that Joyland distributed reinforcement bars in the Visayas region.
The proliferation of substandard steel products, especially reinforcement bars, in the Visayas became the focus of grave concern after collapsed structures in Bohol after last year’s earthquake and in Leyte and Samar after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda revealed widespread use of inferior materials.
PISI president Roberto Cola asked the BoC to act on the wide variance in pricing of similar items. “This requires a serious examination of the Bureau’s system for steel product valuations,” he told media in a briefing.
“The exceedingly low price quoted by Joyland,” added Cola, “is already a smoking gun. It shows gross under-valuation. We are waiting for the Customs Commissioner to take firm action on the information the Bureau itself made public.”