Customs in bad shape after Lina dropped ball
FORMER commissioner Alberto Lina has left the Bureau of Customs in bad shape, failing to hit any of its revenue targets for the six months of the year, records show.
All ports under the bureau’s supervision were also unable to hit their respective goals in April and May this year.
For the first half of the year, the bureau collected only P190.27 billion out of its P238.32-billion target, for a P48.05-billion shortfall.
Weeks before Lina stepped out of office, then incoming President Rodrigo Duterte identified the bureau as among the three most corrupt agencies in the government, along with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Land Transportation Office.
Last month, President Duterte ordered new Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to rid the agency of corrupt officials and personnel.
“I already have the raw information but I still have to validate it... I hope Faeldon would do his thing and stop corruption in Customs,” the President said, adding that unscrupulous Customs officials and employees have “long lived in luxury.”
In April, the bureau posted a deficit of P8.47 billion, with import duties and taxes collected reaching only P32.45 billion as against the monthly target of P40.92 billion.
The Port of Manila posted the highest shortfall at P2.36 billion, followed by the Manila International Container Port at P1.77 billion; Port of Limay at P1.36 billion; Ninoy Aquino International Airport at P762.7 million; and Batangas at P500.6 million.
The same collection downtrend was registered in May after the BOC’s top ports again suffered huge collection deficits, contributing to the agency’s P8.83-billion shortfall for the month.
The Port of Manila again suffered the biggest deficit at P2.03 billion followed by MICP at P1.74 billion; Batangas at P1.37 billion; NAIA at P1.01 billion; and Limay at P825 million.
Collections from the five ports account for close to 85 percent of the monthly revenues of the BOC, the government’s second largest revenue-generating agency.
Aside from the top five ports, collections were also down in other ports across the country—San Fernando by P520.5 million; Legaspi by P73.1 million; Iloilo by P274 million; Cebu by P621.2 million; Tacloban by P70.3 million; Surigao by P8.6 million; Cagayan de Oro by P808.6 million; Davao by P1.23 billion; Subic by P2.13 billion; Clark by P38.4 million; and Aparri by P252.3 million.
The Port of Zamboanga was the lone port to exceed its target of P84.6 million, with collections reaching P109.4 million for the first six months of the year.
With the agency’s whopping shortfall, Duterte said Faeldon has a lot of work to do to reverse the downtrend in the revenue collection for the rest of the year, in particular in undertaking a no-nonsense campaign against smuggling of commodities, including agricultural products. Rey E. Requejo
Earlier, agricultural groups said the volume of smuggled agricultural produce like onions, garlic and carrots surged last year, resulting in about P3.7 billion in revenue losses for the government.
Citing discrepancies between United Nations data of countries reporting shipments bound for the Philippines and local agency’s monitoring of inbound cargo, agriculture stakeholders said smuggled onions alone may have ballooned sixfold.
Data from the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database showed that China, India, The Netherlands, the United States and Hong Kong shipped a total of 49.3 million kilos of onions but the Philippine government counted only about 31 million kilos.
The difference of 18.3 million kilos could only mean the rest was brought in illegally, said the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), an umbrella organization of agricultural stakeholders.
The UN data also showed China sent 138 million kilos of garlic in 2015, but the Philippines monitored only 23.6 million kilos—a difference of 114.4 million kilos.