BOC reforms starting to work–Sevilla
MANILA, Philippines—Four months after its launch, the reorganized Bureau of Customs (BOC) has yet to meet its collection target but Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla avers reforms are “starting to work.”
In a statement, the new head of the Department of Finance-attached agency cited what he called “encouraging initial results.”
“Four months after rolling out President Aquino’s reform program for the Bureau of Customs, emerging cash collections by the agency for the months of November 2013 to January 2014 registered a 19.26-percent growth rate over the comparable period in 2012 to 2013,” he said.
Last month, the BOC registered revenues of P29.36 billion. The figure, however, was P1.94 billion short of the bureau’s P31.3 billion target for the 21-day trading period.
Last year, the bureau failed to meet its P340-billion annual target with revenue collections of a little over P300 billion.
Nontheless, Sevilla, the former finance undersecretary for privatization, said it was a “significant improvement from the prereform period growth of 4.76 percent in January to October 2013.”
Sevilla said that “one of the key performance indicators for the reform program’s success is the improvement in cash collections.”
“One can draw a line before and after October 2013, when the reform operations and personnel movements stabilized, and observe that the initial major elements of the President’s customs reform program have been substantive and generated significant growth in revenue for the government,” he said.
“These are encouraging initial results. The numbers tell us the reform program is starting to work,” he added.
Sevilla said he was also encouraged by the fact that “the BOC’s Intelligence Group has issued an unprecedented number of alert orders on shipments that were potentially undervalued or misclassified.”
“Ninety percent of these shipments had adverse or derogatory findings, leading to higher collections for the government,” he said.
According to the BOC chief, “this tells us two things: First, that importers have been so used to the system of corruption in the bureau and colluding with customs officials that they thought they could get away with the gross undervaluation of their imports. Second, with our 90 percent success rate in finding problems in import entries, the bureau is actually not alerting and examining enough shipments.”
He reiterated that “the work of customs reforms is to go back to the basics and to fix the fundamentals.”
He said the bureau was “committed to closing all the gaps in the system to make it harder for our people to do the bad thing and easier for them to do the good thing.”
Early this month, Malacañang said it was not enough to revamp the BOC. Instead, “we need systemic reforms,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters.
This year, the agency’s revenue goal is P408.1 billion.
From 2009 to 2012, the agency incurred collection deficits of P186.5 billion. The revenue deviations totaled P52.9 billion in 2009, P21.4 billion in 2010, P54.8 billion in 2011 and P57.23 billion in 2012.