BOC steps up probe on smugglers of cigarettes, oil, luxury cars
The Bureau of Customs warned on Friday suspected smugglers of imported cigarettes, luxury cars, and oil products that their days would soon be over under an intensified probe on their activities that had been costing the government lost revenues equivalent to a tenth of the agency’s annual collections target.
“Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon, in response to public clamor to investigate it, has directed its intelligence and investigation service to look into reports of rampant oil, luxury vehicle, and cigarette smuggling in many parts of the country,” the BOC said in a statement.
“So far, the BOC has a top list of companies that are suspected engaged in [smuggling] oil, motor vehicles (including high-end importers), and cigarette smugglers that fake tax stamps of the Bureau of Internal Revenue to defraud the government,” it added.
According to BOC data, smuggling of cigarettes, oil, and luxury vehicles were the “top sources of revenue leaks,” with foregone revenues reaching over P50 billion annually – or about 10.7 percent of the annual revenue target averaging P467.9 billion.
The BOC is the country’s second largest tax collection agency.
Citing reports of Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based watchdog, as well as the International Monetary Fund, the BOC said it had been unable to collect yearly revenues amounting to P22.5 billion from oil, P21 billion from vehicles, and P16 billion from cigarettes due to smuggling.
Other estimates on lost revenues from smuggling of the three products were at a higher P165.5 billion – or about $3.85 billion yearly, the BOC said, citing its records.
Faeldon said he would want to end during his term as BOC head “prevalent” misinvoicing of imported goods as well as fraudulent misrepresentation or misdeclaration – both underdeclaration and overdeclaration – of the real value of imported goods.
“We are ready to use all available options in the probe against erring companies [importing] oil, motor vehicles, and cigarettes to make sure we control all forms of revenue leaks that are seriously detrimental to hitting revenue targets,” Faeldon said. “It will never be an easy task for us, but we will toil hard through sweat and blood, only to make sure that we do our jobs in our faithful compliance to our mandated tasks as public servants.”
“The probe is part of the BOC’s mandated effort to collect revenues, stop bribery in the agency, and ferociously snuff smuggling to hit revenue targets and enforce critical reforms in line with the policies of President Duterte,” he added. /atm
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