MANILA, Philippines—Embattled Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon admitted on Tuesday, that the Bureau of Customs, which took a beating during the President’s latest State of the Nation Address due to its failure to curb corruption and smuggling, would miss its revenue collection target for 2013.
Biazon, who tried resigning from his post immediately after the SONA held Monday afternoon, said weaker-than-expected merchandise imports by the country has caused a drag on revenue collection by the BOC so far in 2013.
In the belief imports would not significantly recover in the coming months, Biazon said the BOC’s revenue collection target might no longer be attainable.
For 2013, the BOC is tasked to collect P340 billion in import taxes and duties. The latest target was less than the original P397 billion set earlier in the year. Despite the reduction, the BOC thinks the new target is still difficult to achieve given the substantial drop in imports.
“Considering the slowdown of imports, we are not positive on meeting the target,” Biazon told reporters on Tuesday. He said, however, that the BOC might still register an increase in revenue collection from the P289 billion recorded in 2012.
He said this to reporters after he announced in a press conference that he had tendered his resignation, but that President Aquino did not accept the resignation.
Besides anemic imports, Biazon acknowledged that the continuing culture of corruption in the BOC and among private-sector firms that transact business with the government agency have been to blame for its discouraging performance.
In response to criticisms that he had not guts to fire people engaged in corrupt practices in the BOC, Biazon said BOC employees have been fired for bad performance but firing alone would not solve the problem.
He reiterated the proposal to abolish the entire government agency and create a new one that would have a new breed of workers.
The BOC was expecting its latest collection target of P340 billion to be further slashed, but the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee, in the meeting of its officials held earlier in July, decided to keep all the latest fiscal and macroeconomic targets.
The BOC is the second-biggest revenue earner for the national government next to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Despite the collection performance of the BOC, its head agency, the Department of Finance, expects the national government to meet its target of keeping the budget deficit at or below 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for this year.
Finance officials said rising revenues collection of the BIR and increasing dividends remitted by state-owned firms would help keep the deficit within target.