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BOC reports collection deficit of P186.5B in 4 years

...But Customs chief Biazon confident 2013 collection can at least touch P300B

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs, the government’s second largest revenue generating agency, incurred collection deficits of more than P186.5 billion between 2009 and 2012, a BOC report, a copy of which was furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer, showed.

The bureau’s revenue “deviations” totaled P52.9 billion in 2009, P21.4 billion in 2010, P54.8 in 2011 and P57.23 billion in 2012.

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During the first nine months of 2013, the Department of Finance-attached agency had collected only P224.46 billion, which was way off its annual target of P340 billion.

But Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon believes bureau personnel “should still be excited.”

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“We’re in the last quarter of the year, the final push for us to reach our goal of collecting the right revenues for the government. Let us look forward to reaching the P300-billion mark this year,” he said.

The former Muntinlupa City legislator pointed out they were “close to P230 billion in collections. With a little more push, we’ll reach P300 billion.”

“Like a marathon where runners have kilometer marks for how far they have gone, we also have our internal motivational milestone mark of P300 billion,” he said.

On his Twitter account, Biazon clarified “the BOC did not cut its (2013) target to P300 billion…The BOC cannot unilaterally cut the target imposed on it (by the interagency Development Budget Coordination Committee, or DBCC).”

The DOF, in a statement, said last week that “preliminary data from the BOC showed that collections reached P25.57 billion in September, up 10 percent year-on-year, bringing total revenues for the first nine months of 2013 to P224.46 billion, which is five percent higher versus the same period in 2012.”

Like the finance department, Biazon did not disclose the BOC revenue collection target for September.

Instead, he explained they “faced a blip in our September collections because of the changes that we implemented. But we hope to make up for lost ground this month.”

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“With October coming in, hopefully we’ll be able to put forward and reach that goal that we have, to reach P300 billion by year end. That will be the first time the bureau will collect such a high amount. With the positive performance that we have, we’re encouraged that we can make it,” he also said.

In its Collection Performance Report, the bureau disclosed that its revenue collections in January totaled P24.54 billion, followed by P22.47 billion in February, P21.8 billion in March, P27.13 billion in April, P25.92 billion in May, P23.25 billion in June, P27.67 billion in July, P26.06 billion in August, and P25.57 billion in September.

The nine-month collections were up 10.8 percent over revenues during the same period in 2012, said the report.

Sometime in July, Biazon admitted that the bureau would most likely miss its 2013 collection target, citing a sluggish international trade, globalization and trade liberalization, among other factors.

“Considering the slowdown of imports, we are not positive on meeting the (P340-billion) target,” he had told reporters.

Aside from anemic imports, the BOC head acknowledged that the continuing culture of corruption in the agency and among private sector firms doing business with the bureau were to blame for its discouraging performance.

Last month, he said that the bureau might fail in meeting its P408-billion collection target for 2014 due to the utilization of free-trade agreements, estimated to cost at least P60 billion.

Biazon explained that the DBCC did not factor in the government’s foregone revenues on FTA in assessing Customs collection targets.

“The target is based on the assumption of trade volume that would come in. While the volume of trade came in, we did not collect revenues because of FTAs,” he said, adding “they computed our target based on the entire volume of trade without discounting FTAs, which resulted in collection shortfalls. How can we collect something out of nothing?”

The Philippines is part of several FTAs, including those with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, among others.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, collection deficits, customs collections, News, Philippine Government, Ruffy Biazon, State Budget and Taxes
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