Pre-shipment checks ‘not the answer to smuggling’

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A proposal to extend pre-shipment inspections (PSI) to include containerized cargo has been rejected by exporters who claim that corruption and not the lack of checks is the reason for rampant smuggling.

The Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport), in a position paper addressed to Senator Franklin Drilon, expressed apprehensions over the legislator’s proposal to have the Bureau of Customs expand PSI coverage.

Philexport chairman Paterno H. Dizon said that while the group shared Drilon’s concern over smuggling, particularly the release of a P 6.4-billion shipment of shabu from the Customs bureau’s custody, “corruption is the ultimate reason why this has happened and not the lack of PSI system.”

He said the BOC should instead implement relevant provisions in the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act supporting trade facilitation. One of these is Section 1514, which states that the bureau may adopt international standards and best practices laid down by international agreements or conventions.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, Dizon added, provides that WTO member countries should “end pre-shipment requirements.”

“[I]mplementing the PSI system will then be a violation of this rule,” he said, urging instead the establishment of information and communications technology (ICT)-based systems.

“Having an ICT-based system will reduce delays at border/entry points and expedite release of goods,” Dizon claimed

“Implementing [PSI] will add another layer of bureaucracy, serve as possible source of corruption and add significantly to the costs of all importers. And again, there is no guarantee that illegal shipments would not enter the country

The BOC should strengthen its risk management program, fast-track institutional reforms including adopting ICT and non-intrusive technology, and establish and strengthen the Authorized Economic Operator program to institute the advance clearance process, periodic lodgment, and expedited customs clearance of exports.

The bureau was also urged to invoke statutory and administrative powers for import control such as continuing alerts, hold orders, border inspection, post-entry audit and seizure.

“These measures only need proper and strict enforcement,” Dizon said.

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