DOF beefs up Customs’ anti-smuggling measures
To beef up the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) anti-smuggling defenses, the Department of Finance (DOF) is working on the transfer of patrol boats acquired through a loan from European lenders.
In a statement Thursday, the DOF said its international finance group (IFG), which contracted the loan, recently reported to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III that they already asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to transfer some of the patrol vessels to the BOC.
Under the Philippine port and coast guard capability development or PGC vessels project, the government acquired one 82-meter vessel and four 24-meter boats.
“The IFG told Dominguez that the funds for the PCG vessels project worth P5.9 billion or about 111.58 million euros was sourced from the unutilized portion of the buyer’s credit facility originally for the greater maritime access ports project, unrecouped advanced payment and the counterpart funds provided by the then Department of Transportation and Communications,” the DOF said.
According to the DOF, the French government through its export credit agency Bpifrance Assurance Export guaranteed the loan granted by the BNP Paribas Group as well as the Credit Agricole CIB.
The loan was repayable in 12.5 years with a two-and-a-half year grace period, the DOF added.
The 82-meter boat will be delivered in February 2019, while the four 24-meter vessels will be on board next year.
Citing reports of the Washington-based watchdog Global Financial Integrity as well as the International Monetary Fund, the BOC said in February that it had been unable to collect P22.5 billion from oil, P21 billion from vehicles, as well as P16 billion from cigarettes each year due to smuggling.
Other estimates on foregone revenues from smuggling of the said three products were at a higher P165.5 billion or about $3.85 billion yearly, the BOC had said, citing its records.
BOC data showed that smuggling of cigarettes, luxury cars and oil 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 country’s second largest tax-collection agency had said. JPV
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