Customs revenue rises as reforms slowly gain traction
MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippine Bureau of Customs has collected 19 percent more revenue in November-January than a year earlier, suggesting the government's crackdown on smugglers could be paying off.
The country's second-biggest agency for revenue said it collected 81.3 billion pesos ($1.80 billion) in the three-month period compared with 68.2 billion pesos it collected in the same period last year.
"These are encouraging initial results. The numbers tell us the reform programme is starting to work," Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said in a statement.
The double-digit rise in the bureau's collection in November-January compared with the 4.76 percent annual climb in collection in January-October 2013.
Apart from regularly filing cases against smugglers, the Bureau of Customs has also tightened the noose on shipments to address revenue leakage from undervaluation and misclassification of imported goods.
The Philippines is facing a surge in customs fraud related to imported goods in recent years.
Sevilla took the helm at the Bureau of Customs in December after his predecessor, Rufino Biazon, resigned to face charges he misused "pork barrel" funds during his time as congressman.
The customs bureau needs to collect 408 billion pesos ($9 billion) this year, up 20 percent from the previous year's 340 billion pesos goal, to help the government meet its 2014 budget deficit target of 2.0 percent of gross domestic product.