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Customs misses collection target for 7th straight month

Customs misses collection target for 7th straight month

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs failed to meet its revenue target for the seventh straight month in July, with most of the agency’s 17 districts registering collection deficits, according to some BOC personnel in charge of collections.

July revenues totaled P27.8 billion, about 14 percent higher than the bureau’s collections during the same period in 2012. However, they were P1.83 billion short of the agency’s monthly target of P29.63 billion, the same sources disclosed.

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, who has yet to release the official BOC collection data for the month, blamed “slippages” resulting from smuggling, as well as trade liberalization, sluggish international trade and a strong peso, among other factors.

During the first semester, the bureau collected a little over P145 billion. But the amount was way below its six-month target of P163.85 billion.    However, Biazon said the bureau’s actual collections showed a “slight increase” over the previous year’s figures.

According to the BOC head, the bureau was set back by the March collection figures, which amounted to P21 billion, nearly P7 billion short of the agency’s target of P28 billion for the month.

“We ordered a tightening of the anti-smuggling campaign last March. Stricter measures were implemented to target traders who undervalue and misdeclare, making those who play the ‘cat and mouse game’ adopt a wait-and-see attitude. That could be contributing to that. Plus, of course, the usual slump in collections during the first quarter of the year,” Biazon explained.

The January-March period is “traditionally a lean season for imports. The period comes immediately after the high demand of the Christmas season and the slowdown during the Chinese New Year,” he noted.

Biazon said in a telephone interview that the evaluation of the collection performance of the BOC’s  districts “will be included in the assessment of who will be moved in the next round of Customs reshuffle.”

He did not name names, but told the Inquirer that “some district collectors who performed well beyond expectations will likely be retained.”

For the January to June period, at least two ports—Clark International Airport in Pampanga and the Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales—had already met their 12-month targets.

The Clark airport’s total first-half collections reached  P1.06 billion, substantially surpassing its annual target of P886 million. The Subic port  registered revenues of nearly P4 billion, compared with its 2013 target of P2.5 billion.