A party-list lawmaker urged the government to intensify efforts to curb smuggling, saying P200 billion is lost every year because of this illegal activity.
“Instead of introducing new tax reforms to raise revenue for the government’s social services and infrastructure programs, the government should be looking into the issue of smuggling at BoC (Bureau of Customs), especially steel,” Buhay party-list Rep. Jose ‘Lito’ Atienza said.
He lamented that the Customs bureau has yet to implement a provision of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on the pre-inspection of container vans.
Section 440 of the law mandates that container vans should be inspected at their ports of origin.
“They should be cleared at the port of origin before shipment. When the Duterte administration came in, we expected that it would be implemented, but until now, nothing has changed. Obviously, the DoF (Department of Finance) is not keen on its implementation,” the lawmaker said when the House of Representatives deliberated on the budget of the DoF.
“Obviously, the government—the BoC and the DoF—don’t want to know what is inside the container vans. They are merely dependent on the declaration of importers. Industry analysts say that a minimum of P200 billion is lost every year due to unabated smuggling,” Atienza said.
“The huge amount of tax revenues the government is losing due to this malpractice could be used to fund infrastructure projects under the President’s ‘Build, Build, Build‘ ”programs, particularly those that are intended to alleviate the country’s transportation system to ease the commuters’ daily burden,” he added.
The lawmaker earlier urged the government to look into the possible collusion between Customs officials and large steel makers, saying lost tax revenues rooted on corruption could be enough to fund social services and infrastructure projects.