MANILA: The government should intensify its efforts against the rampant smuggling of petroleum products in order to generate revenues for infrastructure projects under the Build, Build, Build Program as well as the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.
Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman Jesus Arranza urged various government agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to monitor oil shipments that are being surreptitiously entered through the ports of the country.
“Almost hundred percent of our oil supply are being imported. The government must keep watch of oil shipments through the installation of CCTV cameras in our ports,” said Arranza said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“Fines must be imposed and smuggled goods be confiscated,” he added.
Arranza particularly urged the BIR and BOC to be on alert on technical smuggling wherein importers under-declare the value of goods being entered into the country in order to pay lesser import duties.
“These agencies must check the inward foreign manifest submitted by importers to determine the value of their imports. At the end of the day, they will submit the income tax returns lalagyan mo ng cost of goods and cost of fuel. Eh di huli mo (At the end of the day, they will submit the income tax returns where they will indicate the cost of goods and cost of fuel. Thus, you will be able to detect smuggling),” he explained.
Cargo manifest or inward foreign manifest contains the detailed list of cargo on board the vessel or aircraft including information on the goods such as transport document numbers, consignors, consignees, marks and numbers, number and kind of packages, weight, description, quantity of the goods, and the destination.
The FPI has earlier said that the country loses around PHP 200 billion in revenues annually due to increasingly sophisticated forms of smuggling, with petroleum being among the top products.
The business group asked the government to strictly implement the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling to deter illicit trading.
““The government must focus on plugging revenue leakages to complement the tax reforms being implemented by the Duterte administration,” said Arranza.
The Congress has recently passed a measure seeking to increase the excise taxes on tobacco products in a bid to reduce smoking prevalence among Filipinos and to generate additional funding for the government’s Universal Health Care program.
The House adopted the Senate version of the bill which would increase the excise on cigarettes from PHP 45 to PHP 60 per pack over the next four years.