Lacson flags over P1-B lost annual revenue from seafood imports since 2015
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday flagged possible foregone government revenue amounting to an average of over P1 billion yearly since 2015 from fish and other seafood imports due to misdeclaration and smuggling.
During Thursday’s resumption of the Senate’s investigation into the food security crisis triggered by the African swine fever (ASF), Lacson questioned huge discrepancies between the import records from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
“Ibig sabihin maraming misdeclaration or underdeclaration ito or maraming smuggling,” the senator said.
(Meaning, there are numerous misdeclaration or underdeclaration here or a lot of smuggling.)
“Ang laki nga ng discrepancy. Ang bottomline dito, nawawala ang revenues…Ang nawawala rito, per year, in taxes, an average of P1.085 billion yearly during the last six years, from 2015 to 2020,” he added.
(The discrepancy is huge. The bottomline here, revenues are gone missing… The losses here per year, in taxes, is an average of P1.085 billion yearly during the last six years, from 2015 to 2020.)
Lacson presented figures from the WTO and the PSA, which showed the volume and average cost of imported fish and seafood from the top 15 importing countries to the Philippines.
Based on the senator’s presentation, there is a 20-million kilogram disparity between the volume of imports from 2015 to 2020.
Meanwhile, there is a disparity of 20.9 billion in the cost of imported fish and seafood from the said period, according to figures presented by Lacson.
“So bukod sa pork, pati mga isda, mga seafoods, there’s a pattern. Sa chicken, pareho rin. Hindi rin nagkakasundo yung record ng WTO at saka ng PSA,” the senator said.
(So besides pork, even fish, and other seafoods, there’s a pattern. In chicken, it’s the same. The records of the WTO and PSA also do not jibe.)
“Ang lalaki ng discrepancy. I would just like to point this out simply because hindi lang sa pork itong mga kalokohan, it cuts across and the records would not lie,” he added.
(The discrepancies are huge. I would just like to point this out simply because anomalies do not only involve pork.)
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), for its part, said it would investigate the discrepancy flagged by Lacson.
“Kung may discrepancy [If there is discrepancy], I think we should investigate and we will investigate,” BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona told senators.
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