MANILA, Philippines - Total customs collections grew 26 percent to P86.5 billion in the first three months of the year due to higher volume of imports, improvements in valuation of imported items and a slight increase in the number of working days to 63 from 61 last year.
The Bureau of Customs, which contributes about 22 percent to the total revenues of the government, likewise attributed the growth to the implementation of various changes in valuation of goods, processing of import documents, as well as intensified enforcement of alert orders and policies on filing of import entries.
It aims to collect P408.1 billion this year, 34.95 percent more than the P302.4 billion raised in 2013.
For March alone, Customs collections rose 34 percent to P29.3 billion, marking the third consecutive month of growth due to an increase in the volume of goods imported as well as the reforms initiated by the agency’s new leadership.
Month-on-month cash collections have improved from 19.2 percent in November 2013, bringing the average growth rate for the past five months to 23.24 percent or way above the 4.76 percent average growth rate from January to October 2013.
In terms of monthly collection growth, the BOC continued to outperform the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which logged a 10 percent rise in tax revenues in the same month.
Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla said the bureau would continue to aggressively implement reforms over the next 15 months to help shore up state revenues and curb corruption.
Among these measures include the reimposition of preshipment inspection for all formal entry cargoes; the creation of a single, central valuation reference for major commodities and the establishment of a centralized assessment system.
Sevilla’s goal is to make transactions nearly 100 percent paperless to weed out corruption in the agency.
Currently, preshipment inspection only covers cargoes entering the country in bulk, not packaged, bundled or packed, in boxes and pallets.
The preshipment inspection of all containerized cargoes, which comprise 35 percent of dutiable goods entering the country, is seen to curb smuggling which has deprived the government of P200 billion in lost revenues a year.
Several business groups noted the marked increase in technical smuggling of traditional bulk or break bulk cargoes like sugar, rice and steel. In particular, they cited recent alleged rice smuggling case in Subic where more than 1,000 containers of rice were brought into the country without the proper documentation.