MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs raised a total of P68.5 billion during the first quarter of the year, but the revenue collections were P7.83 billion short of the Department of Finance-attached agency’s target of P76.3 billion for the period.
Asked for comment on Sunday, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon blamed the deficit on the January-March period being “traditionally a lean season” for imports.
In a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he pointed out the period “comes immediately after the high demand of the Christmas season and the slowdown during the Chinese New Year.”
“In addition, stricter measures were implemented in March to target traders who undervalue and misdeclare, making those who play the ‘cat and mouse’ game to adopt a wait-and-see attitude,” he said.
The former Muntinlupa City legislator also said “the evaluation of our port personnel’s revenue collection performance will be included in the assessment of who will be moved in the next round of Customs reshuffle.”
Biazon noted “the movement of officials to assignments where they would be most effective is paying off.”
“We may have found the right chemistry among our officials to enable us to meet our collection target for 2013 although it remains to be seen as we progress through the year…I won’t hesitate to undertake more rounds of reconfigurations should I find it necessary if only to ensure our meeting our collection target this year,” he said.
In March, the BOC failed to reach its revenue target with collections of only P21.09 billion, or P6.91 billion short of its P28-billion goal for the 31-day period.
In a collection report, a copy of which was furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the bureau also disclosed that during the first quarter, only five of the bureau’s 17 collection districts met their revenue targets. They were the Subic Freeport, Clark International Airport, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and Iloilo.
The Subic port’s collections totaled P1.84 billion, which was P391 million more than its three-month target of P1.45 billion.
Clark collected P610 million against its target of P230 million, or a surplus of P380 million, while Cagayan de Oro’s revenues amounted to P1.62 billion, or P330 million more than its target of P1.29 billion.
Cebu’s collections totaled P2.10 billion compared to its goal of P2.05 billion, or a surplus of P50 million.
With total revenues of P203 million, Iloilo surpassed its quarterly target of P194 million by P9.3 million.
Cagayan de Oro port raised P553 million, which was P112 million more than its target of P442 million.
On the other hand, the other Customs collection districts did not fare well.
With a P20.3-billion target, the Manila International Container Port collected only P17.4 billion, or a shortfall of P2.98 billion.
The Port of Manila’s collections amounted to only P13.3 billion against its target of P15.8 billion, or a deficit of P2.48 billion as against its target of P5.64 billion.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport suffered a deficit of P331 million with revenues of P5.76 billion compared to its quarterly target of P6.09 billion.
Other BOC ports that missed their targets: Batangas City (by P1.82 billion); Limay, Bataan (by P398 million); San Fernando, La Union (by P103 million); Davao City (by P69 million); Aparri, Cagayan (by P28 million); Legazpi City (by P17 million); Surigao City (by P9.4 million); Tacloban City (by P5.8 million); and Zamboanga City (by P6.1 million).
The BOC has blamed globalization, trade liberalization, a sluggish international trade, as well as the strong peso, for the steady decline in its revenue collections.
Despite the bureau’s collection shortfalls, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima cited the agency accomplishments, saying “2012 will probably be remembered best as the year when the BOC’s public image began to improve dramatically as demonstrated by the results of the recent public trust ratings survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations.”
The same year, he said, would also be remembered as “the period when its efforts to prosecute smugglers finally resulted in convictions.”
“And although 2012 revenue collections fell short of the annual target, the bureau still managed to produce a 9.3 percent increase with total collections reaching P289.85 billion compared to P265.1 billion in 2011,” Purisima noted.
Biazon expressed confidence that with the full operation of the agency’s computerization program in 2013, the BOC would be able to surpass, or at least meets its 2013 collection target of P340 billion.
In 2012 and 2011, the agency collected P289.8 billion and P265.1 billion in revenues.
The BOC head asserted “with human intervention minimized, if not eliminated upon full completion of the program, Bureau of Customs collections would be maximized and smuggling would eventually be eliminated.”
“We also hope that the criminal conviction of smugglers will put the fear of the law not only among smugglers but also among BOC personnel who are in cahoots with erring traders and brokers,” he added.