Four months after the start of its reform program, the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) registered a 19.26% increase in cash collections from November 2013 to January 2014 to P81.325 billion from P68.194 billion year-on-year.
Before the reforms began taking place — from January to October — the agency collected P250.084 billion, up 4.56% from the previous period’s P238.729 billion.
“One of the key performance indicators for the reform’s success is the improvement in its cash collections,” Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla said in a statement. ”One can draw a line before and after October, 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 revenues for the government. These are encouraging initial results. The numbers tell us the reform program is starting to work.”
President Benigno Aquino castigated the second-largest revenue generating agency in his State of the Nation Address in July for its failure to address smuggling and corruption.
The initial major elements of the President’s Customs reform program include the appointment of new top level customs officials; the order for customs officials to return to their mother units in late September; the creation of the Office of Revenue Agency Modernization, the strategy execution and change management arm of the DOF, via Executive Order No. 139, s. 2013; and the creation of the Customs Policy Research Office, the policy modernization and formulation arm for customs, via EO No. 140, s. 2013.
The BOC’s Intelligence Group and Enforcement Group have been issuing an unprecedented number of examinations on alerted shipments potentially undervalued or misclassified over the past four months. Of the 142 shipments that were examined, 90% had adverse or derogatory findings, leading to higher collections for government.
“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 think they can get away with the gross undervaluation of their imports; second, despite complaints from some sectors about congestion, with our 90% success rate in finding problems in import entries, the Bureau is actually not alerting and examining enough shipments.” the Customs Chief noted.
Despite the initial positive signs of the President’s reform program for the BOC, Sevilla reiterated that the work of Customs reform is to go back to the basics and fix fundamentals, and that the long-term success “will not be found in big overarching ideas, but in the work of the mundane and every day.”
He added, “The devil is in the details: we are committed to closing up all these 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. This is to ensure that tuwid na daan becomes the road to take for importers and customs officials alike. The public should expect to see more of these customs reform initiatives rolled out in the next few months.”
Meanwhile, at BOC’s 112th anniversary celebrations last week, ports that exceeded their 2013 revenue collection targets received awards.
Top of the list was the Port of Subic which took in P11.246 billion, exceeding its goal by P1.093 billion, followed by the Port of Cebu with P10.198 billion and a surplus of P1.5 billion, then the Cagayan de Oro port, with P6.659 billion against its target of P6.652 million.
Under Category B ports, or those with targets of between P700 million and P15 billion, Clark port led the list with collections of P1.467 billion, exceeding its P886-million goal. The ports of Davao and Iloilo came next.
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