Lacson: P82-B lost in undervalued Chinese imports
The Philippines lost about P82 billion in revenue from Chinese imports in 2017 alone, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday, citing data from the World Bank.
“This happens every year and we’re only talking of China,” the senator said at the Senate hearing on the 2020 budget.
Lacson said the administration had been missing its tax revenue targets, due in part to the leakage in imports.
China reported $32 billion worth of exports to the Philippines in 2017, but Philippine data showed Chinese imports amounting to only $18.48 billion, or a difference of $13.5 billion.
The value added tax alone on this unaccounted-for billions would have amounted to P82 billion, which was what the Philippines lost, Lacson said.
Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua attributed the leakage to the underdeclaration of the value of shipments, which he said was already being addressed through various measures, such as fuel marking.
Chua also cited such factors as undervaluation, tax evasion and the existence of more than 500 economic zones, which are all separate customs territories that could have a lot of leakage.
Customs Deputy Commissioner Edward Dy Buco, meanwhile, sought the Senate’s support in getting the budget it needed to fully automate its operations.
“Right away, if we automate we eliminate leakages,” he said.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) would need P6 billion for the five-year program, but for this year, it would need P785 million, Dy Buco said.
The Customs official also cited misdeclaration as being behind the data discrepancy on Chinese imports, and said that the bureau had directed its frontliners to follow what was declared in the stowage plan of the vessels.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said authorities could consider going back to the old procedure of having an international agency assess imports from the port of origin.
Dy Buco said preshipment inspection was already being done for bulk and break-bulk cargo. The BOC, he added, had recommended the expansion of the program to include containerized cargo.