Customs Deputy Commissioner Peter Manzano said there was a chance the target set for the second half of the year might be unrealistic because of a lack of solid indicators to show a recovery in imports.
The BOC is tasked to collect P176.15 billion in the second half and P340 billion for the entire year. In the first six months, it collected P145.13 billion compared with its target of P163.85 billion.
“Our collections largely depend on imports. If imports continue to be weak, it will be difficult to meet the targets,” Manzano told the Inquirer.
Latest imports data released by the National Statistics Office showed that goods imported by the Philippines in the first five months of the year reached $24.76 billion, down 3.6 percent from $25.68 billion in the same period last year.
The drop in imports was blamed on weak global demand, which prompted exporters to import less raw materials and capital goods.
Manzano’s statement differed from opinions of critics who believed the BOC was failing to meet its collection goals because of deeply rooted corruption in the agency that has left the problem of smuggling hardly addressed.
No less than President Aquino had criticized the BOC, which he identified during his last State-of-the-Nation Address as one of the few government agencies that have caused shame to the government and the country because of corruption and smuggling.
Aquino said he wanted reforms instituted in the BOC before his term ends in 2016.
In the meantime, Manzano also said a memorandum related to excise taxes on imported alcohol recently issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue could also impact on the BOC’s ability to meet its collection target for the second half.
The BIR memorandum states that excise taxes on imported alcoholic beverages should be paid once the goods are delivered to the warehouses of importers. Previously, the excise taxes were collected at the ports, or upon arrival of the goods.
The implication of the BIR memorandum, Manzano said, was that the BIR was now the agency in charge of collecting the excise taxes on alcohol.
He added that the collection performance of the BOC in the second half could also be dampened by the so-called “ghost” month. In the Chinese tradition, August is considered a “ghost month” when doing certain activities—including traveling and starting a business—can bring bad luck. Business activities thus decline during the ghost month, affecting the country’s total imports.